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: This weeks invertebrate update

w/c 21st May 2018

Another handful of insects noted on my daily commute, including some interesting webbing. Notes with the photos.

Meridon equestris - a variably-patterned hoverfly that mimics bumblebees. The larvae feed on bulbs of Daffodils and Bluebells for most of the year before the short-lived adults emerged. After seeing my first of the year near New Mills I found several more on my visits out.

Whilst checking a birch trunk for resting insects, I noticed that it was covered in sheets of silk. It didn't look like the work of caterpillars or spiders, so I was intrigued what could have caused it. Some internet research strongly suggests that it is down to Barklice. I'm not sure if several species do this in the UK, or if it is only Archipsocus nomas.

Whilst searching the same tree trunk I did notice two moths, which both turned out to be new for me. The top one is Birch Conch, Conchylis nana, and the second one is Common Birch Bell, Epinotia immundana.

Later in the week there was an emergence of Mayflies along the river, and on Friday I walked home via Train Wood, seeing clouds of them as well as a Holly Blue and a very smart pointy-faced Anasimyia lineata hoverfly.

WHITLINGHAM: May bird count & interesting insects

20th May 2018

The May wildfowl count at Whitlingham won't live particularly long in the memory, being rather light on birds. I visited a bit later than my last visit as mist was forecast and I didn't want a repeat of the hour I spent last month staring into the fog. By the time I got there the visibility was fine, with only a thin layer of mist scudding across the water surface. There were five small broods of Greylag Geese at the west end of the Great Broad, but no sign of the Egyptian Goose brood (hopefully out of sight on the island rather than expired). Three Oystercatchers flew over, and four Tufted Ducks were still present. 

Having not visited for several weeks I noted the warblers as I went round, hearing two Garden Warblers (I had a brief chat with Brian who had heard three earlier in the morning) plus Whitethroat, Reed Warbler and an out of place Sedge Warbler singing from some scrub near the archery range. I didn't hear a single Willow Warbler, which was disappointing.

Amongst the other wildlife I noticed the feeding signs and then larval case of Common Case-bearer (Coleophora serratella) on Alder leaves. The attractive beetle Plateumaris sericea was also seen in several different colours, and I managed to identify another Nomad bee as Nomada flava, a patch tick for me. I temporarily detained a Parhelophilus hoverfly, but it wasn't the species that has a tubercle on the leg so I still couldn't identify it. The C.P. was starting to get very busy due to a canoe race, so once I'd finished the count I headed back home.

BRECKLAND: Wayland Wood and a new moth for Norfolk

19th May 2018

A fungus study group visit to Wayland Wood, but I suspected that a nice spring day at an ancient woodland would be more productive for insects than fungi, and this proved to be the case (although I'm told lots of fungi was recorded too).

I arrived a bit early, and Stewart Wright was already there and had found an Oak Sawfly larva and a leaf mine on Greater Stitchwort. I nipped off into the woodland nearby and noticed a leaf mine on Hornbeam that I hadn't seen before. Showing it to Stewart he recognised it as Paracrania chrysolepidella, a species new to Norfolk! I went back to see if any were tenanted, but only found vacated ones, including some on Hazel. Later in the day both Stewart and Andy Beaumont did find occupied mines.

This was an excellent start to the visit. I also noticed that there was a Malthinus or Maltheodes beetle resting on one of the mines, which I passed to Martin Collier who had also just arrived. White-pinion Spotted moth and numerous Mottled Umber caterpillars were of note, whilst Stewart found me an Adela fibulella moth on Germander Speedwell.

By now most people were chipping in with the invertebrates, of which Robert Maidstone's Anaglyptus mysticus longhorn beetle was a new one for me. Various hoverflies (some identified and some not) were seen, along with more caterpillars. There were large areas of Yellow Archangel in flower, plus some Early Purple Orchids and Andy pointed out the feeding signs of Nemapogon clematella.

Many of the fungi seen were plant or wood fungi, but we did see this large and rather formless Morel sp.

I left early after lunch, calling in at a pingo site on my way home, where I found the scarce hoverfly Anasimyia interpuncta to cap an excellent trip.

NORWICH: Fork-jawed Nomad Bee

w/c 14th May 2018

Another spell of warm weather meant for some more interesting after work wildlife around Norwich. Perhaps the most surprising encounter was a brief sighting of a Stoat running alongside the river near New Mills, my first within the ring road. On the same day a Common Tern flew upstream. In Waterloo Park I saw my first longhorn beetle of the year, Grammoptera ruficornis, plus Box Bug and several hoverflies. The highlight however was a Fork-jawed Nomad Bee, Nomada ruficornis. Having only started looking closely at this group of very similar species I was expecting it to be the common Nomada flava, but on examination it had the two-pointed mandibles that characterise this species. A new bee for me, just minutes from home.

YARE VALLEY: Woodland wildlife survey

13th May 2018

On Sunday I had the opportunity to visit an area of private woodland in the Yare Valley in order to do some wildlife recording. The area was mostly covered with Alder carr, but with several clearings, one with cut back reeds, and a few drier areas. Despite originally being concerned that the overcast conditions would restrict the amount of insects about, we had a very productive day and I saw several new species. The photos below therefore represent selected highlights from our day.

 Elaphrus cupreus
 Larval case of Coleophora serratella
 Tipula oleracea
 Four-spotted Chaser
 Balsam Carpet
 Tipula fascipennis
 Mycetophagus quadripustulatus
 Nematus lucidus
 Rhingia campestris
 Blennocampa phyllocolpa

I was particularly pleased to finally identify one of the pesky Nomada bees that I've been seeing recently, with a female Nomada flava found on flowers along the entrance track to the woods. Thanks to Nick for inviting us to his woods.

BEER: A new birdy beer, Light Twite

Thanks to Andy Brown for passing on details of a new bird-related beer for my master list, The Light Twite. I'm always interested to hear about any bird-related beers you might come across (I tend to focus on species on the British list rather than exotics) - you can see the current list through a link at the top of the blog.

NORWICH: Interesting garden wildlife

12th May 2018

After the lichen walk I gave Jeremy and Vanna a lift home, and whilst at theirs had a look at some more wildlife. The highlight was a new hoverfly, Eumerus funeralis. This species has a lookalike that can only be separated by a close look at the inner surface of the hind femur - fortunately Vanna caught it and we could check that it was E. funeralis before it was released back into the garden. Other new species included the bug Harpocera thoracica and the sawfly Aglaostigma fulvipes, although as often happens I saw both of those species again elsewhere on the following day!

Another highlight was the sighting of two picture winged flies, Tephritis neesii, doing a dance. This consisted of the pair facing each other and doing elaborate wing-flicking, which was very interesting to watch. A bit of research suggests it was probably a courtship dance, but I can't rule out that it was two males having a dispute.

As I was leaving a small moth flew past, resembling a Diamond-back Moth. Jeremy and Vanna both recognised it as a related species, Plutella porrectella. They were used to seeing it on their Dame's Violet, but it is fairly scarce in Norwich and was a fourth new species for me during my brief visit. It was five by the time I reached the car as on my way past the house I noticed the a gall on Red Valerian. This is caused by Trioza centranthi, and seems to be spreading through the UK. It is quite distinctive (have a look at the photo and keep an eye out for it) and Vanna was sure that it hadn't been there in previous years.