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: Early Sand Martins

28th March 2015

During the morning I had a call from Justin to tell me that he had found a Mediterranean Gull at Whitlingham amongst the Black-headed Gulls, and had also seen four Sand Martins fly through. I was busy until after lunch, but later in the afternoon (and after it had stopped raining) I went down for a quick look.

Walking along the south shore it was evident how much of an effect the weather has on visitor numbers, as the C.P. was almost deserted. I walked all the way to the pump house and scanned through the Black-headed Gull flock, but unfortunately the Med Gull had departed. As I scanned back and forth I happened to glance up and saw two Sand Martins battling against the wind. Sand Martins are usually one of the earlier migrants to arrive back, but these were my earliest ever at Whitlingham, two days earlier than those seen on 30th March 2009. Walking back I heard a couple of Oystercatchers flying around calling to each other. They flew past over the picnic meadow and then ended up on the jetty opposite the flint barn, where they seemed quite content.

As I walked past the ruined hall I decided to check the Daffodils, and a small fly on one of the flowers looks like it could be the aptly named Daffodil Fly.

WHITLINGHAM: Chiffchaffs and Treecreepers

22nd March 2015

I had a bit of free time on Sunday afternoon and headed down to Whitlingham to look for early spring migrants. As with my previous visit the sunny weather had brought many families and walkers to the country park, making for a busy circuit. A Chiffchaff was calling close to the second car park and was visible high up in a nearby tree. Further round I heard another one singing from Thorpe, whilst a third bird was too busy flycatching do do any singing.

Other than the Chiffchaffs, it was all a bit quiet really. There was still quite a few Tufted Ducks about, but only a single Gadwall and several Teal on Thorpe Broad. Walking slowly back along the south shore of the Little Broad I stopped to watch some Goldcrests close by, and whilst stopped noticed two Treecreepers on nearby Alder trunks.

NORWICH: Solar eclipse

20th March 2015

Norwich was covered in cloud, which rather dampened the enthusiasm, but the partial solar eclipse was just visible several times around ten o'clock.

THORPE MARSH: A few birds and a lichenocolous fungus

15th March 2015

I managed to get down to Thorpe Marsh for a couple of hours, hoping to see one of the waders that others have seen flying over in recent days (Golden Plover, Curlew, Ringed Plover) or perhaps an early summer migrant. A White-tailed Eagle flying around the county gave an added incentive to keep looking up as I walked round. Sadly none of the aformentioned species did fly over. The highlight was excellent views of a male Sparrowhawk as it swept past at head height and landed in a nearby tree. A couple of Meadow Pipits were the only addition to my yearly patch list.

With few birds about I went and had a look at some of the lichen covered trees in order to put my recently gained lichen knowledge to the test. I took quite a few photos to confirm at my leisure, but the most interesting find was a tiny pink fungus called Illosporiopsis christiansenii that parisitises Physcia lichens.It is in the photo below, but you may need to click to enlarge it before you can see it!

NORTH NORFOLK: Lichen walk

8th March 2015

On Sunday I went to Blickling Park to attend a NNNS walk looking at lichens on trees. The walk was led by county recorder Peter Lambley, and was well focused on beginners, allowing the participants to get an idea of how to identify some of the commoner species. We walked amongst some of the old parkland trees towards the lake, before heading across to the woods. Stopping for a short lunch break we saw flocks of Redwings and Fieldfares flying over, whilst we also heard several Nuthatches and a drumming Great-spotted Woodpecker. Whilst in the woods we visited the mausoleum, said to be Norfolk's only pyramid. We saw around 30 species of lichen, and hopefully I will now be able to identify some of them at Whitlingham too. Thanks to Peter for a very informative walk.

Cladonia fimbriata

Xanthoria parietina showing positive reaction with bleach

The Blickling pyramid

WHITLINGHAM: March wildfowl count

7th March 2015

On Saturday I headed down to Whitlingham for March's wildfowl count. The weather was unseasonably warm, with the accompanying huge increase in people. Despite the sunshine I didn't see a single butterfly, although as there were few flowers out they had probably made a wise decision. Another omission were any singing Chiffchaffs, which I had hoped to hear. The final thing that I didn't see was Garganey. The arrival of five of these ducks at Titchwell had raised hopes of one locally, but my wait for a patch one goes on. 

Wildfowl numbers had continued to decline since last month. There were still quite a few Tufted Ducks, but the only Gadwall were across the river at Thorpe Broad. Great-crested Grebes were all in breeding plumage, and the absence of all but two Egyptian Geese suggest that some are currently incubating. Two of the Herring Gulls were of interest, one with a red VKB ring is a bird I've seen here several times and was ringed as a pullus at Havergate in Suffolk. The other one had a particularly long bill, giving it a rather Caspian Gull-like appearance, albeit without some of the other features you would look for in that species. The only 'new' bird for the year was an Oystercatcher on the shingle at Thorpe.