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

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

BEER NEWS: Norwich Beer Festival 2012

30th October 2012

A reminder to everyone that this week is the Norwich Beer Festival! This year there aren't many bird-related beers (Silly Bustard is the only one I can remember from looking at the programme), but there is still a wide range to choose from. You can check out the full list before you go on the Norwich CAMRA website.

This year's logo 

Also with Halloween upon us, if you fancy a seasonal brew you have the standard choice of Hobgoblin, several Pumpkin-based ales (fine if you like the taste of Pumpkin - I don't) or try this special - Shepherd Neame's Spooky Ale.

EAST NORFOLK: Winterton Dunes

29th October 2012

Cathy & I went to Winterton in the afternoon for a walk around the south dunes, hoping to catch up with any migrant stragglers. We walked around in the drizzle barely seeing a bird, although we did find three Fox Moth caterpillars. I set up on the edge of the dunes for a bit of a sea-watch, seeing one Little Auk south and a Shag and Red-throated Diver on the sea, but after 15 minutes gave up as the rain started to come down harder.

NORTH NORFOLK: The Waxwings have arrived

28th October 2012

A third (and final!) visit to St Andrew's car park in the city once again failed to produce any Ring Ouzels, and the cathedral Black Redstart was also notable only by it's absence. In the afternoon we went for a drive along the North Norfolk coast, calling in at Burnham Overy. Here by the side of the car park were two Waxwings and a large flock of Starlings and Fieldfares. We watched the Waxwings for a while until a Sparrowhawk put up the thrushes. The Waxwings trilled to each other, then three more piped in from deep within the hawthorns, and all five flew off towards some nearby houses. We continued on to Titchwell for a drink, before heading back via Choseley and Docking.

NORWICH: Ouzel dip & cathedral Black Redstart

26th & 27th October 2012

This week has been rather frustrating for the most part. There were amazing influxes of birds on Monday and Tuesday at the coast, with the winds changing mid-week. Excited birders told of unforgettable scenes and best days in the field. Back in Norwich, a few more Redwings than normal flew over.

Fast forward to Friday, and it seemed that many of the birds that had arrived earlier in the week were beginning to filter inland. On my way to work hundreds of Redwings were flying over in small groups, whilst a couple of flocks of Fieldfares were also mixed in. I wondered to myself whether any Ring Ouzels or Black Redstarts would be found close by. At lunchtime I noticed that two Ring Ouzels had been found in the city centre, of all places, so I went for a look after work. Despite a large number of Blackbirds (15+) still feeding near St Andrew's car park, there was no sign of the Ouzels.

On Saturday I had planned to go to the North Norfolk coast, but the regular waves of rain and hail against the windows made me think this was a bad idea. Instead I waited for a brief gap in the rain and went for a walk around Norwich looking for migrants. A Kingfisher on a post near Bishop's Bridge was nice to see, but I didn't see anything else of note between here and St Andrew's, although I thought I heard a Black Redstart calling unseen from near the cathedral cloisters. Spending a bit more time near the car park it was evident that the Ring Ouzels had gone, so I went home via various berry bushes.

Later on I noticed that a Black Redstart had been seen this morning at the cathedral! Darn it. As I live close by I headed back to check out the area where I thought I had heard one earlier. As luck would have it, the Black Redstart flew in front of me, perching on a small wooden post, before flying to the ground to feed in the leaf litter. I watched it for around 20 minutes, sometimes down to a few feet, as it fed and flicked it's tail. On my home the Kingfisher had returned to the same post that I saw it on earlier. It looked up at me on the bridge then flew downriver. An excellent end to British summer time (put your clocks back tonight!).

WHITLINGHAM: Winter birds returning

21st October 2012

It actually felt like finding a decent bird was a possibility today, with some autumnal weather and the calls of Skylarks and Redwings passing overhead. On the Little Broad a female Wigeon was close in, having presumably only just woken up. I head three Water Rails making their weird squealing noise (two near the Little Broad and one on the north shore of the Great Broad). Five Cetti's Warblers were giving a mixture of song and sub-song. Numbers of Tufted Duck and Gadwall were similar to the previous week, but the number of wild-type Mallard was up, presumably migrants. A couple of Little Grebes were also seen for the first time since the spring. Whilst scanning from the bird screen, I found a Siskin in an Alder with the tit flock, and heard several others nearby. On the walk back a Green Woodpecker flew up off the meadows and into an oak tree.

SUFFOLK: Slav Grebe & hybrid duck

20th October 2012

We hopped over the border into Suffolk to Oulton Broad, where a Slavonian Grebe was showing very well. Despite its close proximity, a combination of overcast weather and my photographic skill managed to make the grebe look like it was swimming through tar, so enjoy these cracking photos.

Before leaving Oulton Broad I had a quick look around Nicholas Everitt Park for other birds to take awful pictures of. Amongst some Mallards of varying domesticity (as this wasn't underlined in red I'm presuming it is an actual word), I spotted this interesting looking duck. If memory serves, this is a Mallard x Red-crested Pochard, although I would welcome comments if you agree or disagree with this ID. I seem to remember one was seen at Cantley BF a while back. Incidentally the last time I was here (2009!) there was a different bird that resembled a female Red-crested Pochard, but was being muted as a Mallard x RCP, on the same pond.

Back in Norfolk we meandered through the broads on the way back to Norwich, the only birds of note being a small flock of Golden Plover that flew over near Acle.

WHITLINGHAM: Looking for geese

13th October 2012

This week has seen the arrival of a number of flocks of Pink-footed Geese, so today's target was to catch up with one of these flocks over Whitlingham. I was also keeping an ear out for Bearded Tits, as there seem to be large numbers at Strumpshaw, which may mean there is an irruption at some point in the autumn. This was rather over-optimistic, but if any Bearded Tits are reading this, just look at that lovely reedmace!

As I worked my way round a few Redwings were flying over, as well as some frustratingly unidentified finch sp. Near the path to the bird screen a Water Rail squealed, to the equal surprise of myself and a nearby Mute Swan. A lone Teal was in the conservation area along with 17 Gadwall and around 30 Tufted Ducks. With no other birds of note on the broad I headed into the woods, finding some aptly named Verdigris Agarics*.

* Verdigris, for those who haven't come across it, is the bluey-green colour that occurs when copper tarnishes.

NORWICH AREA: Mousehold Redwings

6th October 2012

With a bit of free time in the morning I decided to go up to Mousehold Heath and look for any migrating birds. In hindsight I should probably have gone to Whitlingham, where someone found a 1st-winter Caspian Gull, but Whitlingham on a sunny Saturday usually has more people than birds. Anyway, 10 Redwings flew over southwards, and that was it. There has also been no sign of the Egyptian Geese since I first saw them, maybe they have headed off downriver to raise their chicks somewhere quieter.

NORFOLK: New websites and additions to the Norfolk list

Several recent developments may be of interest to regular readers of this blog:

1) The Norfolk Records Committee have launched their own website. As well as information about the committee members and the species considered by them, it contains identification articles and a Work-in-progress file so that recorders can see the progress of their records. You can visit the website here:

2) The Cley Bird Club have also recently launched their website, which includes a list of the birds seen in the Cley Square, photographs and latest sightings.

Finally the BBRC have published their annual report of rare birds in Britain for 2011. There are few surprises, with the majority of the rare birds submitted from Norfolk during the past year officially accepted. There are however four additions to the Norfolk list to emerge from the report. Firstly the American Herring Gull seen at Blackborough End Tip in 2004 has finally been accepted. Secondly a male Spectacled Warbler found on Scolt Head in May 2011 was new to Norfolk and the 6th British record (there may well be more on the warbler in the next Norfolk Bird & Mammal Report, although the decision on the gull may have come too late for inclusion). The other two were anticipated: Sandhill Crane (photographed at Snettisham and ID'd after the bird had departed) and Western Sandpiper (the well-watched bird at Cley NWT).

[Edit] Obviously there were actually five additions to the Norfolk list, my mind had somehow blanked all memory of the Rufous-tailed Robin at Warham.

NORWICH AREA: Unseasonal Egyptian Geese brood

1st October 2012

On my way home from work I got a phone call from Cathy to say that she had seen the local pair of Egyptian Geese at Pull's Ferry, and they appeared to have at least two goslings with them! I had a walk along Riverside Road and looked across at the ferry, seeing four young Egyptian Geese. Egyptian Geese do have a reputation for attempting to breed in winter, but usually at the start of the year rather than in autumn. Steve on BirdForum informed me that he had seen seven goslings earlier in the day close by at Cow Tower, so hopefully the other three were close by but out of sight. I shall keep an eye out to see how they get on.

THORPE MARSH: Brief update

30th September 2012

Not many birds at Thorpe today, the resident Stock Doves being the only bird of note. Recent rain had raised the water level on the scrape, so not even a Lapwing was loafing. A couple of butterflies were flying; a Red Admiral and a nice fresh Comma. Downriver an Osprey lingers at Strumpshaw, fingers crossed it moves a bit closer...