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

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

THORPE MARSH: Skylark & Norfolk Hawkers

29th June 2012

I popped down to Thorpe Marsh in the afternoon, hoping that the sunshine would bring out a Red Kite or two.  Walking along towards the style an Emperor dragonfly flew over to a pool beside the path, and a couple of Norfolk Hawkers were patrolling the ditch.  I spotted Paul sat on the fence, and stopped for a chat as we scanned over the marshes.  Part way through our conversation I became aware of a singing Skylark nearby, and I was enjoying the song when it suddenly occurred to me that I hadn't seen one on the patch this year (or ever at Thorpe).  It was actually a patch year tick for both of us, taking me up to 105 and Paul to 96.

After Paul had gone I continued my way around the site, seeing a Little Ringed Plover and 6 Lapwings on the scrape.  There were more Norfolk Hawkers and a female Black-tailed Skimmer over the ditches, and my first Red Admiral of the year flew along the riverbank path.  Part way round I caught up with Reg Land, who was having a look round to help him come up with a management plan for the site.  There was little else of interest on the way back to the footbridge, but I did get good views of a Peregrine flying along Thorpe Road on my way home.

THORPE MARSH: Wood Sandpiper

24th June 2012

Following some heavy rain I went down to Thorpe Marsh to see if any passing waders had been deposited.  With no sign of any birds on the scrape, I walked past the cows and onto the riverside path.  The rain had completely saturated the long grass that has bent across the path, and accordingly this moisture was transferred to me.  By the time I had reached the bird screen my trousers were soaked.  By the time I had completed my lap enough water had collected to run into my socks.  The accompanying grass pollen had set off my hay fever, so by the time I had gone round to the cattle compound for a second look I was sneezing, wet and rather peeved. A couple of Lapwings had flown noisily onto the scrape, so I decided to wait a while longer, and I was rewarded with a Wood Sandpiper, which emerged from behind some rushes.  Shortly afterwards it flew up and out of view, and despite checking the shingle spit and river edges in case it had doubled back, I couldn't re-find it.


23rd June 2012 

I know the likelihood is that the bird is an escape, but given the large population in France (see YĆ©sou, P. &  Clergeau, P. 2005 Sacred Ibis: a new invasive species in Europe. Birding World 18 (12): 517-526), has anyone submitted details of this bird to the BBRC, just for the craic? So far no species have been accepted into category C5 (vagrant species from introduced populations). Is there an understanding (either overt or covert) that a ringing recovery would be necessary for a first acceptable record, or could it be that any species widely held in captivity simply isn't submitted as it would be seen as a waste of time? Any information or thoughts are welcome via the comments below.

Sacred Ibis, showing colossal bill

Distinguishing feature 2 - vertical take-off (note the bill is still weighing it down!)

Exciting Dutch news

18th June 2012

So, its unlikely to cheer up any Dutch football fans, but breaking news is that there are 21(!) Baillon's Crakes near Groningen, in the Netherlands. That is basically due east of Norfolk, albeit with a bit of sea in the way.  Its probably a good idea to have a listen here (Xeno canto) to prepare yourself just in case of a local influx.  If you think that for the past week an annoying kid has been scraping that wooden guiro all night on the marshes nearby - a) you're an idiot, and b) go and check it out, now!  And of course if you are currently suppressing one in Norfolk and inexplicably want to tell someone, all emails will be treated with the utmost discretion.

NORTH NORFOLK: Titchwell & Choseley

17th June 2012

In a quick visit to Titchwell we saw a huge flock of Knot, a range of different plumaged Little Gulls and some common waders.  Up at Choseley a pair of Turtle Doves were nice to see, and a couple of Grey Partridges ran across the road near Docking.

MID-NORFOLK: White Rabbit

16th June 2012

Several times when coming home along the Fakenham road Cathy had seen an albino rabbit. I hadn't seen it, and was getting slightly concerned about her shouting "white rabbit! whenever we drove past."  Anyway, it turns out that there really was one.  It sits out on the verge quite happily as cars go past, then legs it into a burrow if you slow below 30mph.

Excuse for rubbish photos #57 - taken through a windscreen.


16th June 2012

No sign of any White-winged Terns at Whitlingham today unfortunately, so that particular wait goes on.  walking along the rather overgrown riverside path I saw my first Banded Demoiselles of the year, all females.  There were large numbers of Common Blues, and a Blue-tailed as well.  The avian highlight of the trip was four Cuckoos, the first time I've seen more than two in the area.  One was on the island, one in the trees at the east end of the broad and two flew over from Thorpe Marsh.  One Common Tern flew along the north side of the broad as I walked back.

THORPE MARSH: Just one more look around...

8th June 2012

Another visit to Thorpe, this time with Daniel Watson who has recently moved to the area and is adopting Thorpe as his local patch.  We didn't turn up too much in the drizzle, the Lesser Whitethroat at Carey's Meadow probably being the pick of the bunch, but it was good to meet Daniel and with another pair of eyes locally who knows what we'll turn up!  You can keep up with the sightings of Daniel and his friends via Only Fools and Birders.


7th June 2012

Another successful visit to Thorpe.  On my first lap around the Marsh Harrier that had previously been so elusive flew up off the marsh and effortlessly glided past and off to the railway line, where it proceeded to hunt up and down the line.  Further round I caught a glimpse of one of the pair of Garden Warblers that has taken up residence, and a lone Oystercatcher was on the shingle spit.

Later on I spent some time looking over the marsh, and was rewarded with a hunting Barn Owl near Bungalow Lane.  At one point it disappeared from sight, and I thought I had refound it perched up in a tree, only to discover that this was a second bird!  This second Barn Owl flew over the broad, past the Marsh Harrier (now showing at will!) and completed a circuit of the marsh, ending up near the first.  Watching them hunt over the glowing Yellow Flag Irises was an exceptional birding moment.  A hunting Fox along the back of the scrape added some orange to the yellow.

THORPE MARSH: Rather damp

6th June 2012

A productive evening spell at Thorpe, although I got soaked by a passing storm as soon as I had got there.  In a bright patch between showers the birds began to sing again, including a brief spell of reeling Gropper, about a month since I last heard one here. A Hobby flew over, which given the amount of sightings this year (compared to previous years) is presumably a bird on territory. Two Cuckoos were onsite, one already at Thorpe and one flying across from Whitlingham.  There wasn't any waders on the scrape or spit, but a Chinese Water Deer was doing its bit for scrub clearance by munching on a small tree.

Chinese Water Deer at Thorpe.  
Excuse for rubbish photos #55 - misty lens after heavy rain.

WHITLINGHAM: Crossbill-less.

5th June 2012

A small influx of Crossbills and yesterdays Black Tern at Rockland seemed to be a good enough reason to brave the bank holiday crowds at Whitlingham.  There are a couple of large coniferous trees along Whitlingham Lane that I have earmarked as possible Crossbill trees, but my best chance is probably just being in the right place at the right time. I kept my ears peeled, but with no joy (well done to Jim, who had some over his house at about the same time though!).  No sign of the Black Tern over the Great Broad, I think I may have to wait until the autumn for another shot at them now.  There were two Common Terns still, presumably the pair that were mating last week.  I did notice that there seemed to be a lot of Mute Swans and Greylag Geese about, so I did a count on my way back, 103 Swans and 91 Greylags, both decent counts.

THORPE AREA: Marsh Harrier at last

4th June 2012

After singing the National Anthem I went out for a look around Thorpes finest nature habitats.  Rosary Cemetery was quiet (admittedly this is generally a good thing, I mean, you don't want a noisy cemetery), and In didn't see much of note in Lion Wood either.  No sign of any orchids at Carey's Meadow (a few years ago I had at least three species flowering in the first week of June here), but my day took a turn for the better when I found a pair of Lesser Whitethroats taking caterpillars into some thick brambles.  The local Black Swan was at Thorpe Green, along with some Mallards moulting into eclipse plumage.

At Thorpe Marsh a dragonfly flew swiftly off the path, almost certainly a Four-spotted Chaser although it went to quickly to be 100%.  At the second scan I managed to pick out one Little Ringed Plover on the scrape, along with the usual geese and Stock Doves.  Further round I was scanning the posts when I noticed the pale underwings of a large bird of prey.  Looking through my bins I confirmed that finally I'd managed to catch up with a Marsh Harrier here (102).  For around five minutes I watched it hunt parallel with Bungalow Lane, it even engaged in a bit of hovering.  A cracking bird, well worth the wait.  I couldn't see anything on the spit, but did find a big Drinker moth caterpillar on my way back to the bridge.

WHITLINGHAM: Friendly Terns

1st June 2012

A look for Spotted Flycatchers and Red-footed Falcons at Whitlingham proved fruitless, but hopefully we'll have some Common Terns born nearby again this summer...