21st February 2016
Whitlingham has two locations where bats hibernate over the winter, and monitoring of these hibernacula is carried out by a licenced bat worker from the Norwich Bat Group. A small number of bat group members are allowed to attend these checks to learn more about bat monitoring, and on Sunday I joined them. Firstly we checked the old Lime Kiln in Whitlingham Woods, where we found three Daubentons Bats and one Natterer's Bat. We then headed back down Whitlingham Lane to the old railway tunnel off Trowse water meadow, where there was one Daubenton's Bat. Overall these numbers were lower than normal, probably due to the mild conditions.
Following the bat checks, I returned to the country park to carry out February's WeBS counts. A flock of 47 Greylag Geese were grazing on the field opposite the car parks. Ten Pochard were on the Little Broad, and slightly surprisingly they were the only ones I saw on my visit. A selection of species and the equivalent count last year [in brackets] are listed below:
- Mallard 32 
- Gadwall 27 
- Tufted Duck 145 
- Coot 69 
- Cormorant 31 
- Black-headed Gull 313 
That rather illustrates the current low numbers of waterbirds, albeit with similar Tufted Duck numbers to last year, and more Cormorants.
Once I had completed the count I returned to the slipway to check for ringed gulls. I only saw the regular Norwegian-ringed bird, so I spent a bit of time reading the metal rings on the Mute Swans. I read four, one of which I had read the previous week, taking my overall tally this year to seven. The BTO have responded to my reports of all of them, and predicatably they were all ringed at Whitlingham, at varying times between 2009 and 2014. A metal-ringed Canada Goose had also been ringed in 2014 at Whitlingham.