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: Wigeony hybrid

31st December 2014

I managed an hour or so at Whitlingham this afternoon to see what the cold weather had brought. The Little Broad was more than half frozen, although the unfrozen bit still contained Shoveler, Gadwall and a Little Grebe. There were good numbers of Tufted Ducks on the Great Broad, but the main bird of interest was a hybrid duck that Justin had found during the morning. It appears to be a Eurasian Wigeon x Mallard hybrid [This is an edit - originally I suggested Eurasian x American Wigeon] although I'm open to ideas if anyone thinks differently. It is an escape (rings were visible when it was out of the water) which is a shame, but nevermind. A walk back along the south shore of the Little Broad failed to provide any Water Rails, leaving them as 'heard only' for the patch year list. Best wishes to everyone for the new year.

SUFFOLK: Covehithe Shorelarks

29th December 2014

With the year nearing its end there was time for a birding jaunt into north Suffolk. I hadn't previously visited Covehithe and was interested in visiting and seeing the three Shorelarks that had been present for a little while. Cathy, Margaret & I arrived in the village and took the public footpath past some pig fields and out to the coast. A squally shower passed overhead, reducing visibility. On Covehithe broad we saw a pair of Goldeneye, a drake Pochard and some Gadwall. As I walked passed an area of Marram grass I saw the Shorelarks feeding close by along the broad edge. They happily fed away, but their constant movement combined with the rain made them a pain to digiscope (see some of my 'favourite' efforts below)

After leaving Covehithe Broad we had a look around the local church, which is situated partly within the ruins of the old one. We stopped in Lowestoft for lunch and a quick look from the quayside (a Seal being the highlight here) before continuing round via Yarmouth. On our way home we stopped near Halvergate in the hope of seeing a Rough-legged Buzzard or Short-eared Owl, and handily another birder was already watching a Rough-legged Buzzard perched up on the marsh, a nice end to the day's birding.

WHITLINGHAM: Pre-Christmas visit

23rd December 2014

With a little bit of time free I popped down to Whitlingham for a pre-Christmas jaunt. Scanning the meadows I looked up to see a Peregrine gliding over. There was still a reasonable number of Gadwall on the Little Broad, along with a scattering of Tufted Ducks. Three Shoveler were also present, including a pair close in to the east end.

Seeing lots of Black-headed Gulls resting near the canoe racks I scanned across for ringed ones, knowing that even if I did find any they would probably be out of range. I didn't see any with coloured rings, but did pick out a couple of metal ringed birds. They were far too far too get any detail, but James Appleton had seen two Swedish metal-ringed birds here last month, so perhaps these are the same birds. There were also quite a few Black-headed Gulls around the slipway, but no ringed ones visible.

The rest of the walk was pleasant but unspectacular, with around 100 Tufted Ducks, 31 Pochard and some Teal spread out across the Great Broad. Two Little Grebes were still in the conservation area bay. There has been quite a bit of tree clearance around the broad edges, so I shall be keeping an eye on the woodchip piles and cut stumps next year hoping for some interesting fungi!

Merry Christmas to everyone who reads the blog and those I have met throughout the year. Here's to a great 2015.


19th December 2014

The last day of work before Christmas, and as a result we were allowed to leave early in the afternoon. Instead of heading straight to the pub I excused myself and nipped to Earlham Cemetery. My target was a rare tiny white fungus called the Yew Club. I had some directions written down that read rather like a treasure map, and having found the right area I then had to get low to the ground and search amongst the moss. Eventually I found it and managed to get some photos. Many thanks to Ian who originally found it and gave me the directions. There was still time afterwards to meet my colleagues in the pub for a couple of drinks and a game of 'pass the pigs' (no I hadn't heard of it either).

Yew Club

WHITLINGHAM: Bat roost checks

14th December 2014

Today I went to Whitlingham with members of Norwich Bat Group to help out with the first roost count of the winter. We headed to Whitlingham Woods and into the old Lime Kiln. This was my first visit here, as earlier in the year we had been unable to unlock it. Inside we found four bats. The first one was in a crack in the ceiling and was noted as a Myotis sp, probably Daubenton's Bat. The other three, including one piggybacking on another, were Natterer's Bats. As well as the bats there were three Herald moths on the walls of the kiln. Interestingly none of the four bats were roosting in the specially made bat bricks that had been installed.

Herald moths, a species commonly found in bat hibernaculae

Moving back down Whitlingham Lane we went to look in the old railway tunnel on the edge of Trowse Meadow. There was no sign of the regular Brown Long-eared Bat, but we did find another three Natterer's Bats, two in a crack in the wall and one in a bat brick. Also in the tunnel were another four Herald Moths, one Buttoned Snout moth and also quite a lot of Cave Spiders.

Many thanks to Rich & the Norwich Bat Group for allowing me to accompany the roost checks.

WHITLINGHAM: December WeBS counts

6th December 2014

A bright and frosty day to carry out the last WeBS counts of the year at Whitlingham. Starting at the west end of the Little Broad there was a large group of ducks, mostly Gadwall. Whilst counting them I noticed a Kingfisher fly up onto a branch, and further round two more Kingfishers flew across the broad. The vegetation had died back enough for me to look for Water Rails, unsuccessfully, and a Goldcrest called nearby.

Once again I scanned the legs of the Black-headed Gulls for foreign-ringed birds but there was no sign of any. All of the gulls were then spooked by some canoeists passing by (a group of which later envoked the ire of the model yachters by canoeing through their course). Further along Graham (a birder from Diss) stopped to let me know that there were quite a few Pochard in the conservation area bay. In total I counted 40 on the Great Broad. A single Shoveler and several Teal were also in the bay, along with 100 Gadwall and 137 Tufted Ducks.

Thorpe Broad also had a decent number of ducks, 70 Tufted, 15 Gadwall, 7 Pochard, 2 Teal and a single Goldeneye. On the spit four Snipe and a Lapwing were visible. A couple of Skylarks and Redwing flew over whilst I stood on the riverbank. With the counts all but complete I scanned the conservation area bay for a while, picking up a couple of previously hidden Little Grebes. I also flushed a Snipe from the area next to the path to the bird screen.

A rather stretched-looking Common Gull


It's the time of year when I start to bring together the 2014 Whitlingham Bird Report. As a result of the mild start to the year the number of species reported so far is rather modest, so I would be grateful for any sightings. Of particular interest are any locally scarce birds, counts or sightings of colour-ringed birds, whilst another area that is always under-represented is flyover birds like wild geese and swans.

Below is a list of birds that might reasonably be expected to be seen here that I have not heard about at Whitlingham in 2014:
  • Bewick's Swan
  • Whooper Swan
  • Pink-footed Goose
  • Red-crested Pochard
  • Common Scoter
  • Smew
  • Red-legged Partridge
  • Any of the 3 scarcer grebes
  • Osprey
  • Woodcock
  • Med Gull
  • Yellow Wagtail
  • Spotted Flycatcher
  • Mealy Redpoll
  • Brambling
  • Crossbill
As well as Whitlingham C.P. I include records from the surrounding area (i.e. Trowse Meadow, Trowse Woods, Thorpe Marsh, Whitlingham Marsh, Whitlingham Sewage Works) see the map below

To report a sighting you can either email me at: whitlinghambirds 'at', leave a comment on this blog post, message me via BirdForum or via Twitter (@Norwichbirder).

If you want to see what the bird report looks like then there is a link to the 2013 report at the top of the blog.

Thanks to everyone who has already emailed sightings throughout the year. Sightings posted online will have probably been added, but if posted under a pseudonym may not have been properly credited, so feel free to let me know if this applies to you and I shall add your name to the acknowledgements section.

Unless we have a bird-filled end to the year, the final report should be released during the first week of January 2015.

NORTH NORFOLK: Cley marsh & beach

29th November 2014

With Christmas approaching we went to Cley visitors centre to pick up some of Steve Cale's excellent cards and have a look around. After lunch we walked down to Bishop's Hide, stopping to admire a pair of Stonechats by the path. From the hide we got close views of Wigeon, Teal & Marsh Harriers, plus distant views of a lone Avocet and a pair of Pintail. Retracing our steps we headed back to the car and round to the beach carpark, stopping briefly to look at the Brent Geese along beach road. Looking out to see we got close views of a bull Grey Seal just offshore, and a Great Northern Diver was sat on the sea. The most interesting find of the day was an egg case found by Cathy. I remembered I had an ID key from the Shark Trust, so when we got home she was able to identify it as that of a Small-spotted Catshark, not something I remember seeing before.

 Stonechat. Somehow my camera changed to 3:2 for this photo.
Small-spotted Catshark egg case.

WHITLINGHAM: Rain, Wigeon & fungi

23rd November 2014

Despite the steady rain falling I decided to go to Whitlingham to look for ringed Black-headed Gulls. Last year there were birds from Norway, Denmark, Latvia Finland & the Netherlands (see then 2013 Whitlingham Bird Report for details), and this winter James Appleton has already seen several 'new' ringed gulls, including one from Sweden. As luck would have it despite loitering around the slipway in the rain I didn't see a single ringed gull. They are worth keeping an eye out for, and if you do see and report a ringed gull I would love to hear the details.

Deciding to move on from the slipway I walked as far as the island to look at the ducks. Two female Wigeon were present, an overdue patch year tick as I missed them in January. There was no sign of the Goldeneye, but Tufted Duck numbers had increased to 77 and Gadwall to 67. A single drake Shoveler, a pair of Teal and two Little Grebes were the other species of interest. Coot and Mallard numbers had also increased but I didn't count them.

The path along the south of the Great Broad was beginning to flood in places, so instead of walking back that way I went into the woodland edge and back across the picnic meadow. I had a look along the wooded edges and saw lots of fungi, including a large group of Tawny Funnels, scattered Yellow Fieldcaps, a Galerina sp (not sure which one!), some Tricholomas and lots of other small species.

 Tawny Funnel
 Yellow Field Cap
 Galerina sp.
 A twisted version of Pipe Club (Macrotyphula fistulosa var contorta)
 Crepidotus sp
Deceivers (I think!)

NORWICH: A bit more Earlham Cemetery fungi

15th November 2014

After hearing that there had been a fresh crop of fungi at Earlham Cemetery I went along to the monthly walk held by the Friends of the Cemetery group. Ian the cemetery fungi expert was on a course, so I helped out with the identification as we went round. One of the main attractions was to see some of the Earthtongues that are probably Geoglossum glutinosum, but also new to me were several Slimy Waxcaps. In addition to the Waxcaps we saw some Pipe Clubs in a different location to last year, and also some small Earthstars in a new location. They will probably turn out to be Striated Earthstar, but it will be worth looking again to check for the similar Beaked Earthstar (the light was too bad to inspect them closely or photograph them at the time)

 Slimy Waxcaps
 Unknown coral sp - possibly Ivory Coral?
 Earthtongue sp.
 Meadow Waxcap
 Fresh Sessile Earthstars
 Striated Earthstars
 Deceiver with an inverted cap growing from the top. I can't remember what the term used to describe this is.
Pipe Club

NORWICH: Rusty Dot Pearl

12th November 2014

On Tuesday night I noticed a small moth sat on the outside of the kitchen window. I went outside and potted it, and after double-checking confirmed it was a Rusty Dot Pearl. This is a migrant species, and particularly pleasing as I'd not seen one before.

NORTH NORFOLK: Holt fungi workshop

9th November 2014

On Sunday I went to Holt Hall to attend a Norfolk & Norwich Naturalists Society workshop looking at fungi on wood. After an introductory talk and presentation we headed off into the woods for a short foray. Many of the fungi we saw were typical woodland species, but I still saw three new species (Peziza micropus, Rigidoporus ulmarius and Fiery Inkcap, Lactarius pyrogalus). The latter was on the lawn just outside of the woods, as were two White Spindles. An interesting pale agaric wasn't identified in the field, so that may perhaps add another species to my list.

 Peziza micropus
 Black Bulgar (Bulgaria inquinans)
Rigidoporus ulmarius

During the lunch break I nipped out for a look on the lawns around the hall for grassland species. These were beyond the scope of this course, but areas of ancient grassland are always of interest. Anne identified another new species for me, the unusually-named Crazed Cap. I found a Parrot Waxcap, Meadow Coral and some Yellow Spindles, whilst there were two other Waxcap sp. not identified with certainty at the time.

 Parrot Waxcap
 Yellow Spindles

In the afternoon we had another interesting presentation, this time about the commonest fungi on trees and their effects on the host wood. All in all an excellent day, many thanks to Tony Leech & Anne Crotty who led the workshop.

WHITLINGHAM: November bird counts

8th November 2014

Looking down my Twitter feed today it appears I may be one of only three Norfolk birders to have not either stroked a Desert Wheatear or seen a Whale today. How strange.

Anyway, I went to Whitlingham to carry out the monthly wildfowl counts, starting as always with the Little Broad. 30 Gadwall were present here, mostly at the east end, but there was no sign of the Shoveler that had been here previously. Moving on to the Great Broad I stopped to scan one of the floating platforms and noticed a Cormorant standing on it. As I looked across it was joined by a juvenile bird, which was noticeably smaller than the first one. My hopes were raised that this was a Shag, but having got it in the 'scope the head didn't look quite right, and after giving it a good look I suspected that the small size was down to a mixture of natural variation and subspecies (sinensis are on average smaller than carbo). This was confirmed when I got back by Dave & Justin, so the wait goes on for that particular Whitlingham tick.

One of the downsides to doing bird counts is not being able to wander off and look at other things, but I did allow myself a quick nip into the woods to look for some fungi under the beeches. There were several species around, including Milking Bonnet (Mycena galopus). Across the river at Thorpe nine Snipe were visible, with probably many more hidden from view. In the conservation area there were a large group of Tufted Ducks (66 in total) as well as 18 Gadwall and a female Goldeneye. The latter may well be the bird that has recently been at Strumpshaw. Two Little Grebes and a Great Black-backed Gull were also of note.

30 THINGS: 12/30 - Merveille de Jour and other moths

2nd November 2014

For a number of years one of the moths I was most interested in seeing was the Merveille de Jour, a green-and-black patterned moth that can be found in the autumn. I've never caught one, and regular lament the fact. Last night I was making one of my regular mothy complaints when David Norgate announced that he had just caught one if I was interested. I certainly was, so Cathy and I headed round on Sunday morning and weren't disappointed by the Merveille de Jour, which was excellent. David has also kindly kept some other moths from the previous night, including a December Moth, Spruce Carpet and Green-brindled Crescent, all of which were also new moths for me

 At last! Merveille de Jour
Green-brindled Crescent
December Moth - stubbier than I had imagined!

NORWICH: Blair's Shoulder Knot

1st November 2014

After our Sutton Hoo visit we popped round to Margaret's house, where we were greeted with the news that she had found a moth on the wall and had potted it for us. This turned out to be a good decision as it was a Blair's Shoulder Knot, a new moth for me (although I think I've seen the caterillar before). We stayed and put the moth trap out in the evening, but as is usually the case here in autumn we didn't catch any macros (3 Light Brown Apple Moths and a Diamond-back Moth were the micros).

SUFFOLK: Sutton Hoo

1st November 2014

For a bit of a change (and to avoid the swarms of autograph hunters following my mention on Friday's Autumnwatch Unsprung) Cathy & I went into Suffolk to visit Sutton Hoo. We visited the main exhibition hall first and then had lunch before heading out to the burial mounds. The scenery on the walk out was beautiful, with hills rolling down to the river Deben. There was a fine crop of fungi too, including lots of Fly Agarics and Parasols. At the mounds themselves Cathy found at least another ten species, along with a Fox Moth caterpillar crossing the path.

NORTH-WEST NORFOLK: Holme fungi extravaganza

26th October 2014

At the start of the year when I was coming up with my target species for the year there were quite a few fungi, and in the end I settled up with a few either/or species. Several of the ones that I hadn't seen can be found at Holme Dunes NWT reserve, where this year Rob Smith and a group of local naturalists have been putting in a concerted recording effort. So far they have recorded over 2000 species between them, and the blog of their exploits is well worth a read - it can be found here. Anyway, Rob had very kindly offered to show me some of the dune specialties that I hadn't seen, and in return I hoped to identify some new species for their list.

I arrived at Holme just before 10:30 to find Rob, Andy and Adrian waiting for me at the visitors centre. After introductions we headed off for the pines to see what we could find. My first target was Scaly Stalkball, a relative of the Winter Stalkball that I had seen in February. On the way we stopped to admire an array of Collared Earthstars (Geastrum triplex), lots of Milky Bonnets (Hemimycena lactea) and a Hare's Ear (Otidea onotica). Emerging from the pines we puzzled over a couple of interesting bracket fungi and saw Snowy, Dune and Blackening Waxcaps (Hygrocybe virginea, conicoides and conica). Before moving on we inspected some Rabbit pellets for nail fungi without success, before arriving at the Scaly Stalkballs (Tulostoma melanocyclum).

Now into the dunes, we were looking for Dune Stinkhorn (Phallus hadriani). A stick marked the spot, but where was the fungus? It was still there, but it had been completely dessicated ("well it is a cold day" was muttered!) We carried on, seeing many more Dune Waxcaps and then another couple of sand specialists, Dune Cavalier (Melanoleuca cinerifolia) and Dune Brittlestem (Psathyrella ammophila) before heading back to the pines. Here we met Karla, who had just photographed a coral fungus. She offered to show us, and we went and had a look. It was small and beige, beneath the pines and the tips discoloured a blue/green, which I believe makes it Ramaria abietina. Nearby we also saw a few Sessile Earthstars and some Liver Milkcaps (Lactarius hepaticus), the milk of which discoloured bright yellow on white tissue.

After a quick bite to eat we went out into the west dunes, walking past a clump of Inocybe sp. We soon located the other species I had particularly wanted to see, Sea Buckthorn Bracket (Phellinus hippophaeicola). Several other species were seen along the path, including a rather out-of-place Collared Earthstar, before I spotted another species of Coral sp. growing amongst the short-cut grass. There were no nearby trees, and this one had brown tips to the branches. A couple of Blackening Waxcaps that were completely black were nice to see, and we also saw a numerous yellowy 'toadstool' type growing in marshy grassland that we couldn't identify. The last fungus of the day was a new one for me - Field Bird's Nest (Cyathus olla) - previously I had only seen Common Bird's Nest.

Many thanks to Rob, Andy, Adrian and Karla for the time, company and local knowledge, which contributed to an excellent days mycology.