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: WInter continues...

28th March 2013

A day off work gave me some time to mount a thorough search of my recording area to look for migrants and the remaining commoner local species. The first place to check for Chiffchaffs was Trowse Meadow, which was notably devoid of birdsong. A Kingfisher did fly down the river, as did three Teal. Searching through a Long-tailed Tit flock I found a Treecreeper as I re-joined Whitlingham Lane.

At the Little Broad a Mute Swan was still on a nest, and a pair each of Pochard and Gadwall were present along with the Mallard & Tufted Ducks. In the scrub nearby a Bullfinch called softly. The brood of Egyptian goslings at the west end of the broad had dwindled from six to four. I had a quick look around the main car park for Conifer Mazegills - this has now been confirmed and is the only current site for this fungus in the county, so I wanted to be able to notify the Broads Authority to keep one of the logs that its growing on. There were no new ducks on the Great Broad, and no sign of the second Egyptian Goose brood - hopefully they made it through the cold snap and were out of sight on the island.

I headed up into the woods and walked along the 'telegraph pole alley' parallel with the A47. This is a good spot for warblers in early spring, but there were none today. I stopped at the viewpoint to scan Thorpe Marsh, where the shingle held a number of gulls but no waders. A loop around Whitlingham Marsh produced one Grey Heron and a couple of flyover Rooks (75). The walk was brightened up at this point with some large Willow Brackets growing in the wet woodland.

Further along Whitlingham Lane I stopped at the sewage works where a pair of Oystercatchers (76) were feeding near the settling pools (these later flew over my head and landed at Thorpe). I went up onto the farmland east of the sewage works to scan back, seeing four Lapwings. My walk back was largely uneventful up until I reached Trowse Meadow, when a Peregrine (77) flew in and spent several minutes flying over the Deal Ground, before heading off southwards.

WHITLINGHAM: Egyptian Goslings

23rd March 2013

A Lesser Scaup in Lincolnshire acted as a spur to get down to Whitlingham today, along with my eternal spring target, Garganey. It was sleeting as I left, which later turned to snow, and finally ended up being blown horizontally at me by the strong easterly winds. Stopping alongside the Little Broad I got excellent views of a feeding Water Rail, and also a quieter than normal flock of Siskins.

On the Great Broad I saw that a pair of Egyptian Geese had six goslings, around a week earlier than the past couple of years. Further round I saw another Egyptian Goose looking very squat as it shielded its brood from the snow. I didn't disturb them, but caught up with them again at the end of my walk and counted at least eight goslings in a big huddle. Elsewhere around the broad I heard a Bullfinch, saw 19 Pochard, 60+ Tufted Ducks, a displaying pair of Great-crested Grebes and a Mute Swan on a nest.

There was a final point of interest before I left. I had seen a caravan in the overflow car park last week and wondered why it was there. I went over to read a notice on the gate nearby and saw that a camp site is opening in that area. I don't have a particular issue with this, but I did notice that it features boutique-y Shepherd's Huts, which sounds rather like one of those "masterplan" schemes that there was meant to be another consultation about. A brief bit of further investigation also suggests that these aren't mentioned on the planning application that was accepted by the Broads Authority, so this may warrant a post of its own once I have done a bit more research...

NORWICH: Waxwings & Peregrine update

21st March 2013

No sign of spring so far, but a couple of good sightings so far this week. On Monday I saw two Goldcrests in a tree on Riverside road, and this afternoon I found a flock of Waxwings on Magdalen Road. They were flying between the telephone wires and a bush out the front of the Dyer's Arms pub, before a double-decker bus went past and they all flew up into an Alder just round the corner off Lawson Road.

In further Norwich birding news I have been having a look at the Peregrines webcam recently, and noticed yesterday that one of the pair was nestling down in the empty hollow that passes as a nest. This made sense today when an egg was laid, about the same time as the first egg was laid last year. You can of course follow the pair via the Hawk and Owl Trust webcam - it is likely that another two or three eggs will be laid in the next week or so.

WHITLINGHAM: Spring arrivals are just around the corner

17th March 2013

It seemed about the right time for Chiffchaffs, so I altered my normal route to take in Trowse Woods and various hedgerow habitats. I didn't hear any, although Justin tells me that there was one at Thorpe Marsh today, so they have begun to arrive. I did hear two calling Nuthatches, several Goldcrests, seven Redwing and a small flock of Siskins on my travels. 2 Pochard were the only ducks of note, whilst the lack of Egyptian Geese suggest that at least one pair may be at a nest somewhere nearby.

A bit short on interesting birds today, so have a look at this L.B.B. Gull

With the lack of birds I had another quick look along the woodland path for fungi, finding some Beechmast Candlesnuff on an old beechmast. It's probably quite common, but very easy to overlook unless you have been driven to hunt through the beechmast.

NORWICH: Mousehold lichen

15th March 2013

Another walk across Mousehold and more excellent lichen. Sometimes known as 'Pixie cups', this is a Cladonia species (possibly Cladonia polydactyla).

NORWICH: Garden Blackcap

10th March 2013

We don't get that many different birds in my garden, but a chance glance out of the window and I noticed this male Blackcap. Presumably a wintering bird rather than an early migrant.

WHITLINGHAM: Flooding & fungi

10th March 2013

Following a day of rain yesterday, I needed to go to Whitlingham and complete the months WeBS counts. It was snowing when I left, and the river level was very high as I walked along the riverside path. Reaching Trowse I could see that over half of the meadow along Whitlingham Lane was under water, as a result of the river had burst its banks.

At the CP there were even fewer ducks than before, with no Pochard, Gadwall or Teal at all. It was marginally better looking across to Thorpe, where a few Pochard and Gadwall were still present, along with a Little Grebe. A Kingfisher, three Lesser Redpolls and a small group of Siskin completed the bird sightings. Ditch clearance is still going on along part of the path, so I diverted along the woodland path for a stretch. Here I found some large stalked puffballs which I think are old examples of Pestle Puffball (Handkea excipuliformis), and one of the Broads Authority staff came over for a chat. He told me that he had found some Scarlet Elf Cups on site and kindly gave me directions to have a look. There are two very similar species that require microscopic separation - if anyone has checked whether the Whitlingham ones are S. austriaca or S. coccinea then I would be interested to hear from you.

Pestle Puffball
Scarlet Elf Cups

NORWICH: Mousehold frogs and fungi

8th March 2013

As I had to go to the post depot, I cut across Mousehold Heath and had a look around. I had a look at Vinegar Pond, where loads of frogs were in the shallows. I heard both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, and found quite a bit of fungi, including Oyster Mushroom, Hairy Curtain Crust, Wrinkled Crust, Turkeytail, Jelly Ear, Witches' Butter and Lumpy Bracket.


Hairy Curtain Crust

Hairy Curtain Crust in situ

Oyster Fungus

NORWICH: Kingfishers & Grey Wagtails

w/e 8th March 2013

Spring is arriving slowly, and my walks to work have been a bit more interesting of late. Sightings this week included two Kingfishers and two Grey Wagtails, including one singing. Pairs of Greylag Geese and Egyptian Geese have appeared sporadically, and a Blackbird was taking nesting material into one of the few remaining riverside bushes that hadn't been chopped down.

Urban birding isn't all glamour. There's a Grey Wagtail amongst this lot.

WHITLINGHAM: Too few birds, too many people

2nd March 2013

Mid-February to Mid-March can sometimes be rather dull at Whitlingham, with waterfowl numbers decreasing and too early for returning birds, and so it was today. Walking down Whitlingham Lane I was surprised by the amount of cars parked at every possible place, however it turned out there was a rowing event on.

The lack of birds was exacerbated by the behaviour of a number of other users of the park, I saw a full house of: dog mess not being cleared up, dogs being allowed to chase the swans, canoeists going around the edge of the broad and hard up against the conservation area boundary (flushing almost all of the remaining wildfowl in a single lap) and taking the prize today was a couple that decided that instead of taking a short detour along the road they needed to move a barrier across the path (where a digger was parked) walk along then move the barrier on the other side too.

Gee, I wonder what this big barrier means...

Looking over to Thorpe there were some actual birds, 50 or so each of Pochard, Gadwall and Tufted Duck. A Cetti's Warbler called briefly and the Little Broad Alders held Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Goldcrest. The only real sighting of interest was a fungus, Blackfoot Polypore, which was a first for me here. I had hoped that I may finally see some wild swans flying over, but it was not to be. Later that night Cathy heard some birds flying over, and lo and behold they were Bewick's Swans flying over the house. 

Polyporus leptocephalus (Blackfoot Polypore)