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

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

NORWICH: Local Black Redstart

30th March 2014

In between shopping and visiting the in-laws I found out about a Black Redstart that had been reported on a roof on Corton Road. As I live nearby I nipped out to have a look. On my first look there was no sign of it, but on my way back I noticed it peering Robin-like over the top of the roof. I waited nearby and it hopped along the top of the roof. An excellent bird to see locally, so thanks to whoever found it initially.

BRECKS: Lynford Two-barred Crossbills

29th March 2014

On Saturday I went to Lynford Arboretum with Jim and Connor to have a look for the Two-barred Crossbills which have shot back to prominence in the last week or so. On our way there I saw my first Brimstone butterflies of the year, and there were loads of them at the Arboretum, along with a couple of Commas. Upon our arrival a Common Crossbill was in trees near the car park.

Crossing the road and and walking up the main track we heard a probable Two-barred Crossbill contact call, but couldn't find the bird itself. Walking further in we heard at least four singing Firecrests, all deep in cover, but with no sign of any more Crossbills we returned to some puddles near the entrance in the hope of seeing one coming to drink. After a short while a birder stood with us saw a Crossbill fly into a small tree nearby. It was mostly obscured by branches, but Connor noticed it had two clear wingbars. It turned side on and flew down to drink, showing the first wingbar to be large, but the second slightly less so. It looked like a 1st-winter bird, but was it a Two-barred Crossbill, or the debated look-a-like? We thought it was probably OK, but hoped it wouldn't be our only sighting.

The Crossbill soon flew off, but we waited for a while near the gate hoping for it to return. Nearby Nuthatches and Siskin called constantly, and we were treated to a excellent display by a Goldcrest, raising its crown and singing at an interloping bird. Whilst Jim & I were watching the puddles Connor had gone looking for Firecrest. A phone call informed us that instead he had found a Hawfinch, so we hurried along to have a look. When we got there it was still visible near the top of a tall tree, but when it flew out we saw there were actually two!

We looped round through the Arboretum, before deciding to give the puddles one last look. It was whilst standing here that Connor & I both heard a Two-barred Crossbill call, and we picked it up in one of the larches. We called Jim and a small group of birders over, and managed excellent views of a male Two-barred Crossbill. With all eyes focussed on the tree, a female was found on a branch on the other side of the trunk, and finally another male. Just before we left they all moved onto the same branch, with all three in the same 'scope view. An excellent afternoons birding, thanks to Jim & Connor for the lift and company.

30 INTERESTING THINGS - 3/30 Hard Shield Fern

23rd February 2014

This week had seen a small influx of early migrant birds to Norfolk, so I headed down to Whitlingham in the hope of breaking my earliest patch record for Willow Warbler or Sand Martin. The weather was overcast with a few showers, but this can be handy for 'dropping' migrants, so I didn't resent the rain. On the Little Broad ten drake Shoveler were still present, along with a dwindling number of Gadwall. There was no sign of last weeks Egyptian goslings, which doesn't bode well for them. The most interesting bird on the Great Broad was a hybrid Canada x Greylag Goose near the main island.

With no migrants other than the now widespread Chiffchaffs, I headed further along into the woods. On my way along a woman stopped to tell me she had just seen a Hedgehog walking across the road ahead, but it had gone by the time I got there (I have only seen a squashed one here). There was plenty of birdsong, including a drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker, two Nuthatches, Song Thrush and lots of Wrens. The woods were carpeted with Dog's Mercury, Moschatel and Early Dog's Violet were also in flower.

Having asked for sites for Hard Shield Fern, a species I have never (knowingly) seen, I was told of several places, including Whitlingham Wood. Jeremy had kindly told me that there was a record from the woods in 2011, so I paid particular attention to the clumps of ferns, most of which are Male Fern. I had almost completed a circuit of the woods, not hearing any migrants along telegraph pole alley, when I noticed a different fern near the top of the steep steps. A closer look revealed it as my target species, Hard Shield Fern. I know I've looked at that clump of ferns before, but just never realised what it was!

WHITLINGHAM: March counts & Orange Underwing

16th March 2013

A bright sunny morning for today's WeBS count, with the attendant increase in visitors. The Little Broad held three Little Grebes, 11 Shoveler (a good count for March) and 45 Gadwall. A Chiffchaff called intermittently, the first of four around the site. Coltsfoot and Lesser Celandines were flowering in several places, whilst several Small Tortoiseshells and Peacocks were seen flying in search of more flowers.

Little Grebes & Gadwall
Egyptian Geese
Along the shore of the Great Broad two small Egyptian goslings accompanied their parents along the slipway. Overhead some Redwings called unseen. A day-flying moth flew past me, and I managed to track it down a path, where I confirmed that it was an Orange Underwing, my first here. I also managed to find a couple of interesting fungi, Winter Polypore (Polyporus brumalis) and what may be Wrinkled Fieldcap (Agrocybe rivulosa).

Orange Underwing
Winter Polypore 
Possible Wrinkled Fieldcap

FENLAND: Whooper Swans

8th March 2014

Earlier in the year my mum and Cathy's mum had both expressed an interest in seeing a Swan feed at Welney WWT reserve. The mild winter has meant that fewer swans than usual were present, but we decided to go anyway and have a meal at the cafe before heading to the main hide as an early Mother's Day present.

Much of the site was still flooded, including the paths, so only the main hide was open. From here we watched as around 60 Whooper Swans and loads of Pochard came right up to the hide to be fed. One of the swans had a yellow ring on its leg, but I couldn't read the digits on it. Only a thin strip of land was visible, and this was covered in Black-tailed Godwits, with 12 Avocet, 1 Oystercatcher and 2 Redshanks. Behind them was a flock of Wigeon, including a drake with a clear green streak, similar to the birds pictured on Dave Appleton's blog.

Despite not seeing any Bewick's Swans we all enjoyed the day out, with sunny weather and excellent views. The swan feeds are finishing today (Sunday 9th) until the autumn.

THORPE MARSH: Little Egret

1st March 2014

Since moving house in the autumn Thorpe Marsh is further to walk, so it had been a while since I last visited. I had heard that a couple of Jack Snipe had been seen there in the week, so I headed down more in hope than expectation. As I crossed the railway line a Song Thrush was singing, an embarrassing patch year tick. Further along the path a couple of Reed Buntings were also singing, another year tick. As I reached the cattle pound I noticed a Little Egret amongst the rushes. I took some photos (this was the first time I've seen one here for any length of time, and only my third patch record). I eventually turned my attention to the scrape, scanning from different angles but not seeing any Jack Snipe.

As I went to move off the Little Egret flew into the middle of the flooded scrape, showing even better than it had before. Eventually it flew off, but only to relocate to the flooded path across the marsh. Walking slowly round I spotted a Stock Dove flying over the woods (no sign of any on the marsh itself though), and a Meadow Pipit also flew over. I stopped to look at some fungi and heard an Oystercatcher calling as it flew in to land on the spit. I scanned through the gulls hoping that Ben's Iceland Gull would relocate from Cantley, but despite a flock of gulls flying in from the direction of the sewage works I failed to see anything other than the commonest four species. Hopefully next time I'm here the Little Ringed Plovers will be back, along with the first warblers and hirundines.

NORTH NORFOLK: A glimpse of the aurora

27th February 2014

I happened to glance at Twitter before putting my laptop away, and noticed some excellent photos of the aurora borealis (Northern lights). Reading down the page it appeared it was showing well as far south as Blickling. Cathy jokingly said we should go and have a look, and I not-jokingly said we should go and have a look. We called Margaret, who had gone to bed for an early night but quickly got up and came over to pick us up. We headed north away from the city lights, heading to Cromer, along to Cley and home via Holt. The main activity had died down, but we still managed to see a green band of light along the horizon, which was excellent. We also saw a couple of small deer and a fox on our way round.