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