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: Siskin & a Suffolk Gull

23rd February 2014

I arrived at Whitlingham to the welcome sound of Siskins. They have been scarce locally this winter, presumably because of the mild temperatures, but around twenty were spread across the tops of the Alders. I scanned the Little Broad, counting nine Shoveler and 95 Gadwall. There wasn't much of note on the Great Broad, although I did stop to watch a Sparrowhawk soaring over the broad. Having gone round the broad I scanned the gulls from the bird screen and noticed a colour-ringed Herring Gull on the posts. I have reported it to the ringer, but as it turns out this bird was present last winter so I know it was ringed as a pullus at Havergate Island in Suffolk.

On my way back I glanced at a pile of wood-chips, and noticed a large group of cup fungi (Peziza sp). These can be tricky to identify, but I'll have a look in the next few days.

NORTH NORFOLK: Walsingham Abbey Snowdrops

17th February 2014

Today was Cathy's birthday, so we went for a walk at Walsingham Abbey to see the Snowdrops. The whole area was very tranquil, both along the flooded River Stiffkey and in the nearby woods. The ground was carpeted with Snowdrops and Winter Aconites, whilst Cathy found Harlequin Ladybirds, Garden Snails and a Plume moth on some old tree trunks.

WHITLINGHAM: February wildfowl counts

16th February 2014

Some bright sunshine today for a change, and as I left the car park a Skylark flew over calling. Starting as always with the Little Broad there had been a decrease in Gadwall numbers to 127, but on the up side the 12 Shoveler was my highest count here since 2010.Single Little and Great-crested Grebes were also present, along with 32 Tufted Ducks.

Nothing except Black-headed Gulls broke the hundred barrier on the Great Broad, with 91 Coot and 89 Tufted Ducks coming closest. 20 Pochard, 9 Teal and 36 Mallard completed the duck interest. I finished the main part of the count just in time, as one of the inflatable motor boats then proceeded to do flat out manoeuvres and turns along the length of the broad. Incidentally the south-east corner of the broad is still very muddy, wellies would be recommended if you intend on walking here.

Thorpe was relatively quiet, with no sign of the masses of Snipe present last month (although I presume they are still present just on the marsh rather than the broad). I did count 58 Tufted Ducks, 8 Pochard and 30 Gadwall, along with a Great-crested Grebe and Common, Herring and Black-headed Gulls. 

NORFOLK: Sculthorpe Moor Bullfinches

15th February 2014

Despite the squally weather Cathy, Margaret & I headed out to do a bit of birding. We diverted via Ber Street to check if the Waxwing was still present and it was, although more obscured than yesterday. Handily a birder was already there and pointed it out half hidden amongst some apples.

We then went to Sculthorpe Moor to see some Bullfinches. This had been the plan a fortnight ago until the Whitlingham hibernaculum check - I went to look at the bats instead on the understanding that we would go to Sculthorpe soon and would find Cathy seven Bullfinches (four males, three females).

From the visitors' centre we stopped to shelter from the rain at the first set of feeders and were rewarded with a Coal Tit and a pair of Bullfinches. There wasn't much showing from the Woodland Hide, so we carried on, seeing some Scarlet Elf Cups near the river. Continuing along the boardwalk we were glad the river wasn't an inch higher as it had already flooded much of the area either side of the path. At the Whitley Hide we were treated to close views of loads of Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Brambling, whilst several Reed Buntings favoured the left hand bird table. After a while a pair of Bullfinches arrives, followed by a second pair. Somewhat strangely another male flew in and Cathy's request list was complete - we saw seven Bullfinches in her desired male/female combination. Hopefully these premonition skills will be used again later in the year.

We took a circuitous way home, calling in at Cley Spy for me to get a new tripod head and the heading along the coast road for the first time since the floods, seeing a Little Egret and a Marsh Harrier.

NORWICH: City centre Waxwing

14th February 2014

My walk to work this morning was brightened up when I spotted a Waxwing feeding on an apple tree on Ber Street. It was about time quite frankly, I have checked this tree most weekdays over the winter expecting to see some winter thrushes feasting, but instead most of the apples have just fallen to the ground and started to rot. On my way home it was still in almost the same place, but had stopped feeding and instead was just perching in the rain, quite unperturbed by the pedestrians several yards away. I got a record shot with my point-and-shoot camera, but I recommend you check out David Bryant's website for some excellent pictures of the same bird:

30 INTERESTING THINGS - 2/30 Natterer's Bat

1st February 2014

My latest target species from my 30 Interesting Things list was Natterer's Bat, a fairly common bat that I hadn't seen before. Whilst I may have been able to find one by roaming around in the evenings with a bat detector, I had joined the Norwich Bat Group and knew that they sometimes allowed members to come on Hibernaculum visits. As it happened the old Lime Kiln at Whitlingham often has Natterer's Bats over the winter, so that seemed a good bet.

Earlier in the week Jim (who is a committee member of the Norwich Bat Group) had let me know that there was going to be visit on Saturday. I had planned to go out with Cathy, but she very supportively said that I should go and look for bats instead. As a result of this, I met Richard Moores and four other members of the bat group at Whitlingham, and we headed to the Lime Kiln in Whitlingham Woods.

I had been told that Natterer's Bat should be certain here, but things don't always go to plan, and the keys we had been given to unlock the kiln wouldn't work. Whilst we waited for another set to be brought we kept an eye out for birds moving through, and these included a Nuthatch and Marsh Tit. When a member of the Broads Authority turned up with another set, these didn't work either, with the suspicion that someone had tampered with the lock, making it unusable. Leaving him to inspect the lock, we headed back along Whitlingham Lane to Trowse Meadow, where there is a second bat hibernaculum in an old tunnel.

I was now less confident of seeing Natterer's - on the last check this tunnel only held a single Brown Long-eared Bat. With the padlock working first time we squeezed through the narrow entrance and into the tunnel. Several hibernating Peacock butterflies and Herald moths were on the ceiling as we moved further in. I spotted some bat bricks and found our first bat of the day. It was a Myotis sp, and having not seen any of them close up I guessed at the commonest one, Daubenton's. Everyone had a look, and opinion was split, but the majority thought it could well be a Natterer's. Close by in another bat brick was a Brown Long-eared Bat, and then at the end of the tunnel was a definite Daubenton's Bat. With this to compare with we looked again at the debated Myotis, and everyone agreed that it was indeed a Natterer's Bat. Success! Not wanting to disturb the bats I didn't take any photos, so you'll have to make do with this "artist's" impression.

Many thanks to Richard and to the Norwich Bat Group for allowing me to come on the hibernaculum check. It is important to note that all British bats are protected by law and roost sites shouldn't be visited without a licensed bat surveyor . For more information about the Norwich Bat Group and their projects, check out their website: