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: Last visit of the year

28th December 2013

Unless something particularly unusual turns up today was my last patch visit of the year, and I decided to head down to Whitlingham before sunrise in the hope of a last minute addition like a Barn Owl or some flyover wild swans. As I walked along the river at Trowse Meadow Redwings were passing overhead, and six Cormorants flew west. A Great-spotted Woodpecker called, and another one was in a tree near the old Whitlingham lane route. A Nuthatch was also calling from near the car park, and I was surrounded by a flock of Long-tailed Tits.

There was still a large concentration of Gadwall on the Little Broad (c240) and six Shoveler. By the time I had reached the Great Broad the sun was up and creating a two-tone effect of golden reeds and sunshine along the north shore and shadowy frost along the south shore. A flock of 17 Pochard were mixed in with the Coot and Tufted Duck, and a pair of Wigeon were the first I've seen here since January. Three Little Grebes were the only other birds of note from the south shore. I stopped briefly to check out a fallen tree where several types of fungi were growing, before carrying on to the conservation area. Here I noticed an adult Herring Gull with a red ring on its left leg, but unfortunately the combination of distance and bright sunlight meant that I couldn't read it.

Coprinellus sp

So there we go, I end the year having seen a round 100 species of bird at Whitlingham in 2013, lower than the past few years but at least scraping into three figures for the fifth successive year.


So as 2013 draws to a close it remains for me to wish all of the readers of my blog and fellow Norfolk wildlife enthusiasts a very Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2014!

NORWICH: An unusual find...

19th December 2013

On the way to work today I saw a family staring at something in the road. I looked over and saw this dead Woodcock. I considered picking it up, then the logical part of my brain asked me what my colleagues would think of me walking in with a dead Woodcock under my arm, and more importantly what I'd do with it afterwards, so I checked for rings (it was unringed) and then left it. I happened to mention it to Pete (a fellow birder and bird artist) who said he would have liked to have had it to draw, but by the time he popped back it had gone.

WHITLINGHAM: December counts

14th December 2013

Middle of the month usually means WeBS counts, and so today I went down to Whitlingham to see if there had been any further increase in wildowl. The main change was in Teal numbers, now up to 55. On the downside there was no sign of the Shoveler. There was also 215 Gadwall, 124 Tufted Ducks and 168 Coot, along with the usual swans and geese.

Sighting of the day was a couple of Peregrines over the Thorpe Broad. Initially I thought that they were heading of down the valley, but then they flew round. The smaller bird continued over the marsh, where earlier a flock of 25 Snipe had been put up, but the larger bird showed well, giving several fly-pasts. It concentrated on a large raft of Black-headed Gulls, as if trying to spook one into the air, but it never seemed to be in fully focused hunting mode - maybe it just doesn't like gulls. Once both birds had gone from view I continued my counts from the bird screen, where I discussed the birds and the purpose of the counts with an interested walker.

WHITLINGHAM: A bit of winter wildfowl

8th December 2013

Luckily the flood waters had little effect as far as Norwich (Thorpe Marsh suffered a bit of flooding but that was about it). I headed down to Whitlingham to see if any birds had arrived from the coast. This time last year was my most successful day at Whitlingham, finding Ring-necked Duck and Common Scoter, but there was nothing so exciting this time. The scarcest duck of the day was Shoveler, six of them on the Little Broad, and there was around 200 Gadwall, up on the last couple of years. Two Little Grebes were near the main island, and there were also a couple of Great Black-backed Gulls around.

I decided to spend a while at the slipway looking for more colour-ringed Black-headed Gulls. Despite some controlled wildfowl attracting with seed (and some uncontrolled attracting by families with spare loaves of bread) none of the gulls seen were ringed. Many of the Mute Swans and one of the Canada Geese were, but only with metal rings, which require much closer inspection! I did get a decent look at one though, as it was eyeing me up as a potential food source.

WHITLINGHAM: Sightings for 2013 Bird Report

December 2013

Regular readers of the blog will probably remember that last year I collated my Whitlingham records along with sightings from fellow local birders into a Whitlingham 2012 Bird Report (still available here if you didn't see it at the time). This was generally well received, and I have been working on a report for 2013. The main part of the report is the systematic list, complete with details like high counts, earliest and latest sighting dates etc. There will also be brief articles on January's Bittern invasion and the origins of colour-ringed Black-headed Gulls seen at Whitlingham. In terms of species, 2013 has seen fewer species reported than 2012, but these have included Whitlinghams first Red-rumped Swallow (recently accepted by the Norfolk Birds Rarities Committee - see the latest work-in-progress file on their website).

I would be grateful for any sightings from the Whitlingham area (including Thorpe Marsh) this year. Records of scarce birds, flyovers and ringed birds would be of particular interest.

In particular I would welcome any sightings of the following species as I suspect the following may have been seen in 2013 but I haven't heard about them:

Whooper Swan (usually an annual flyover)
Goosander (near annual)
Smew (near annual)
Common Scoter (several in recent years)
Osprey (Regular at Strumpshaw, occasional sorties upriver)
Most waders
Any Owls (Barn & Tawny presumably resident but not actually seen this year)
Crossbills (Presumably fly over from time to time)
Brambling (as above)

Sightings can be left in the comments on this blog, emailed to whitlinghambirds 'at' or via BirdForum, and everyone who sends in sightings will be acknowledged at the end of the report.

Many thanks.

NORWICH: Yet more Earlham Cemetery fungi

1st December 2013

As the frosts have held off I nipped back to Earlham Cemetery to look for a rare cup fungus. It had been found by the Norfolk Fungus Study Group a few weeks ago when they had a foray there (unfortunately mid-week so I couldn't attend). I managed to find it, but it was rather far gone. So take this photo as a record shot, but have a look in a book or on google if you want to see what it normally looks like!

Sowerbyella radiculata

Whilst there I had another look at the Waxcaps and other bits and bobs. I still couldn't find the area with Blackening Waxcaps and Slimy Waxcaps in, so if you have come across either of those at Earlham this year then I'd appreciate directions for next year. I was told they were somewhere in section 6 if you look at a graveyard map. Whilst I was wandering around I saw a Coal Tit, and there were also lots of Redwings around.