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: Lesser Marsh Grasshopper

28th August 2012

Another hot day, the bird highlight at Thorpe was one inquisitive Sedge Warbler, with a wader total of zero. Lots of dragonflies around including a couple of ovipositing Brown Hawkers, a few butterflies, and some Lesser Marsh Grasshoppers.

NORWICH: Angle Shades & an Old Lady

26th August 2012

Still not too much happening locally on the bird front, but a bit of impromptu mothing turned up an Angle Shades at the outside light and an Old Lady in the trap. Old Ladies are so-named because they resembled a Victorian gown apparently. I wonder what the Victorians would think if they walked down Prince of Wales road at the weekend?

WHITLINGHAM: Yellow-legged Gull & some crickets

24th August 2012

Another couple of hours spent looking for non-specific bird species. I paid particular attention to a couple of tit flocks that were moving around the site on the off chance that a Pied Flycatcher or Greenish Warbler had tagged along, but found nothing more exciting than three Chiffchaffs. On the broad there were two rafts of large gulls (then one super raft as the solar boat spooked the first lot). The vast majority of the gulls were Lesser Black-backed, but I did pick out an adult Yellow-legged Gull amongst them. The nettles were loud with the stridulations of Dark Bush Crickets, and I went and had a look at the Long-winged Coneheads that I first noticed a couple of years ago. Websites often suggest that people struggle to hear them without a bat detector, but they have always been quite noticeable to me. As I walked back a Swift flew over heading southwards, as did four House Martins a little later.

Female Dark Bush Cricket
Female Long-winged Conehead (camouflaged well!)

YARE VALLEY: Willow Emerald

22nd August 2012

We went out for a drive around the Yare Valley this afternoon, taking in the new village sign at Limpenhoe, which like many of our signs has some nice bird art on.

The sun was bursting through the clouds fairly regularly, so we decided to stop off at Strumpshaw to look for the Willow Emerald damselflies. Having failed to find any in the first three open stretches of ditch I had moved on when Cathy called me back. She had managed to find a Willow Emerald, and several other damselflies also flew around below it as the sun came out. It was on the far side of the ditch, too far for me to get a decent photo, but the right distance to get good binocular views. I had dipped these last year, and this sighting means that I have now seen all 12 of Norfolk's resident damselfly species (I still haven't seen Black Darter out of the Norfolk dragons).

THORPE MARSH: Common Sandpipers

20th August 2012

Another scorchingly hot day, but as there have been a few birds on the move recently I gave Thorpe Marsh another look. The scrape had dried up, but scanning east I picked up a large raptor soaring in the distance. It had more than a little bit of a Honey Buzzard look about it, but unfortunately for me it few off north-east (with slow, effortless wingbeats!) and was added to the wastebin of unidentified raptor sightings.

Shortly afterwards Dan arrived and we scanned for a bit, but didn't see any other raptors. Swallows and House Martins were hawking insects past Bungalow Lane, but the local Swifts have cleared out.  Walking round to the broad we found three Common Sandpipers on the shingle, two of which went for  a fly across the broad and river before returning and landing out of sight. Several butterflies included Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral, whilst a dead and rather smelly Common Shrew was delighting a host of Greenbottle flies.

NORWICH: Rosary Cemetery

17th August 2012

In a change of tack I decided to look for an inland Pied Flycatcher, and decided that the most likely place for one to turn up around my side of the city was Rosary Cemetery. I therefore went and walked up and down each of the paths, looking for flycatchers. I was rewarded with a large flock of Long-tailed Tits, and several Migrant Hawkers. There were quite a few Speckled Woods, Holly Blues, Gatekeepers and Commas around, but no birds of interest.

THORPE MARSH: More quiet times

16th August 2012

My exciting new feature "where aren't there any birds" continued this evening at Thorpe, where there weren't any waders. This was probably due in part to the scrape drying out, making it even less enticing to overflying birds. I did spend some time just watching waves of gulls flying eastwards to roost, whilst something munching reeds in a nearby ditch was probably a Water Vole. Looking along the dykes I could see dozens of white China Mark moths fluttering low over the Frogbit.  Nothing of note on the spit either, but 40 ducks were on the broad (there hasn't been more than three in recent times) - 2 Gadwall and 38 Mallard. A Cetti's Warbler gave a brief burst of song, and seven recently fledged Mallard ducklings squeaked from the river.

WHITLINGHAM: No terns today

15th August 2012

I try to keep an eye on birds being seen at other inland reservoirs and country parks to act as an indication of what birds might turn up locally. There has been a number of Black Terns around recently, but today there was also a flock of Little Terns and several Sandwich Terns around, so I thought Whitlingham was definitely worth a look. As it turned out there were no Terns at all, 170+ Mallard and a couple of Herring Gulls were the pick of the bunch.  Still, I reckon its worth keeping an eye out in the next few days just in case things get moving.

Thinking further ahead, there is a group of 3000+ Black-necked Grebes in Germany, hopefully some of those will move across into Norfolk at some point.

NORTH NORFOLK: East Runton moths

14th August 2012

Whilst camping at East Runton we did a bit of moth-trapping with Peter. We caught around twenty species, several of which I hadn't seen before (Rosy Minor, Cloaked Minor and Chinese Character).  A Poplar Hawk Moth proved popular with the campers, word of mouth bringing several groups of people over to come and take photos.

YARE VALLEY: Strumpshaw Fen moths

12th August 2012

We attended a moth morning at Strumpshaw Fen, presided over by Ben. Two traps were put out, one in the woods and one at the edge of the reedbed, and between them they caught around 70 species.  There were the usual crowd-pleasers (Elephant Hawk, Poplar Hawk, Garden Tiger, Large Emerald) but also some scarcer species. The best one was probably Double Kidney, a Yare valley speciality, but several Wainscot species were new for me (Brown-veined, Bulrush, Webb's), and Clouded Magpie, Gold Spot and Alder Kitten were good to see too. Whilst going through the traps, two Crossbills flew into nearby pines, a Whimbrel flew over and a Nuthatch called nearby.

Double Kidney and half a Poplar Hawk Moth

THORPE MARSH: More Green Sandpipers

11th August 2012

A quick visit to Thorpe Marsh before the football saw three Green Sandpipers on the scrape, and a Green Woodpecker flew over the marsh and across to Whitlingham.

Incidentally the Norfolk Wildlife Trust have produced a leaflet for Thorpe Marshes, including a map and a checklist of the commoner species that can be found.  You can download a copy via Chris Durdin's Honeyguide website here.

NORTH NORFOLK: Chalkhill Blues

9th August 2012

With another sunny afternoon it seemed like a good time to make our annual visit to Warham Camp. Butterflies were very much in evidence all along the road and track to the old fort, and hundreds of Chalkhill Blue butterflies were scattered around the mound (mostly males). Having taken loads of photographs last year I mainly concentrated on the chalk flora, but also took a few more shots of the blues.  We stopped for a picnic and I found a Brown Argus, whilst the flowers on Cathy's handbag attracted a Chalkhill Blue, whilst several less intellectually-challenged butterflies flew towards it before realising their mistake. Before we left two Common Buzzards rose up over nearby woods, and a young Chiffchaff was fly-catching from an oak tree.

Autumn Gentian (Felwort)

Male Chalkhill Blue

WHITLINGHAM: Year tick hat-trick

9th August 2012

It turns out that instead of looking for waders at Thorpe, I should have been looking for ducks at Whitlingham.  Luckily Daniel was, and he found a drake Common Scoter on the Great Broad.  I walked down in the morning to check if it was still around, however I was delayed somewhat on Whitlingham Lane as I found a group of five Mistle Thrushes on the recently cut meadows, a long overdue year tick, equalling last years total of 106.

Once I got up to the island, the Common Scoter was obvious, floating serenely in the middle of the broad.  I watched it preen and stretch its wings, and eventually it drifted closer to the north shore and began diving.  It was excellent to get prolonged views in the sunshine, my only previous views of Common Scoter here was an evening bird at Thorpe three years ago.  Bird 107 for the year!

As I began to walk home down Whitlingham Lane I stopped to get a drink out of my bag, looked up and saw a Red Kite soaring over the meadows!  A rather tatty one, but nonetheless a patch tick, and bird 108.  I now have the rest of the year to see three new birds and break my year list record of 110 from the 2010.

THORPE MARSH: A few more insects

8th August 2012

Another trip to Thorpe in search of waders, however as the Green Sandpiper had departed there was no luck on that score.  At least 30 Lapwings lined the scrape and loads of gulls spiralled over the marshes, presumably caching in on an unseen source of insects.  On the insect front I found a large dragonfly exuvia case and a fly with glowing green eyes (Cath helped go through all of the similar species in my insect book and we identified it as Chrysops relictus).

Check out those eyes!

THORPE MARSH: First sandpiper of the autumn

6th August 2012

With waders beginning to stack up at Cantley, I decided to give Thorpe a look.  I hadn't been there long when a wader flew onto the scrape and out of sight.  First impressions were that it was a Green Sandpiper, but it took 15 minutes or so before I saw it again.  When I did see it again I was able to confirm that it was indeed a Green Sandpiper, and it looked like one of this years birds.  Other than Lapwings and Stock Doves nothing else turned up, and there weren't any raptors up either.  The broad was devoid of birdlife bar one young Moorhen on the spit.  Still, its the start of autumn wader migration here, fingers crossed for something a bit rarer in the near future...

WHITLINGHAM: Longhorn Beetle

4th August 2012

Trying to keep the patch list ticking over, I walked down to Whitlingham to check out areas where I was most likely to encounter something new.  Instead of walking down Whitlingham Lane I went up through Trowse Woods to check out the fields between the Ski-slope and the bypass.  These had been cut, but there was no sign of any partridges amongst the stubble.  Further along near Whitlingham Hall the land is at its highest, and I took a while to scan over the woods in the hope of soaring raptors, managing two Kestrels.

Walking back down the lime tree avenue I arrived back at the country park, and after a quick look over the Little Broad I headed to the moorings on the river to scan for Grey Wagtails. With none of these areas turning up the hoped for birds, I went on to do my usual lap.  The expected wildfowl were on the broad, although strangely there were no Greylags (presumably they were at Thorpe green). The Mallards were all in eclipse, and there were a couple of small ducklings still.  A few butterflies were around, and insect of the day was this Longhorn Beetle (Strangalia maculata).  On the way home I cut through the Riverside shops and found some Common Broomrape growing in the carpark near Argos.

THETFORD AREA: Deer & Helleborines

2nd August 2012

A walk in the woods got progressively better as time passed.  We started off with some unusual looking beetles on dung, moved up to Muntjac, then Roe Deer, then finally to the main reason for the trip, some Helleborines.

On our way back we stopped in New Buckenham, where there were three adult Muscovy Ducks (one with two ducklings) and one paired up with this rather gruesome white Domestic Duck.

NORWICH: White-letter Day

1st August 2012

Having found out that White-letter Hairstreaks had been seen nearby at Mousehold Heath, I waited until the sun came out and then headed down to Zaks carpark. I soon located a White-letter Hairstreak flying around a small elm, but it was being blown around quite a bit and seemed reluctant to land lower down.  I eventually managed to get a passable photo by holding my camera above my head!  I went and had a quick look at the banks of brambles behind the bandstand for White Admirals, but only found a Speckled Wood, with Ringlet and Gatekeeper a bit further round in an open glade.