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

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

THORPE MARSHES: A scattering of new insects

17th June 2018

After completing the WeBS count at Whitlingham I nipped round to Thorpe to count there in case Justin didn't get time. It was marginally better than Whitlingham, with 2 Tufted Ducks, 1 Gadwall and 3 Lapwings of note. I did a quick lap, but still managed to see some interesting insects, mostly on patches of Ox-eye Daisies.

 Twin-lobed Deer Flies
 Volucella pellucida
 The alien-like face of a male Lindenius albilabris solitary wasp
 Colletes daviesanus
Fen Snout (a soldierfly)

WHITLINGHAM: June wetland bird survey

17th June 2018

As readers will have ascertained from recent blog entries, the summer means a lot of insects but not that much in the way of local birdlife. On Sunday I carried out the monthly WeBS count, with two pairs of Tufted Ducks on the Great Broad (and another at Thorpe), three cygnets (plus two more at Thorpe) and a single Common Tern were the pick of the bunch. Mute Swan numbers were double the previous years equivalent count. Numbers of common species compared to last year below:

Mute Swan 124 (2017: 63)
Greylag Goose 55 (2017: 89)
Canada Goose 44 (2017: 64)
Mallard 44 (2017: 26)
Tufted Duck 6 (2017: 2)

In terms of other wildlife it was a good day for hoverflies, with my first Volucella zonaria of the year and another 10 or so species,some of which are pictured here.

 Eristalis intricarius
 Cheilosia illustrata
 Parhelophilus sp.
 Eristalinus sepulchralis

Meliscaeva auricollis

A Welsh Chafer was seen too, a new beetle for me, with a rather odd defence posture.

NORWICH: Hornet Moth

Mid-June 2018

A couple of years ago I saw my first Hornet Moth, which had been attracted to James Lowen's garden using a pheromone lure. They are a spectacular sight, but I wanted to find one the 'traditional' way, by checking the bases of Poplar trees in the early morning. I'd not had any luck before, but having noticed some old excavation holes in some Poplar trees nearby, I thought I'd try again this year.

My first visit drew a blank, there were lots of holes, but they appeared to be old ones. On the second visit I found one chrysalis half out of a hole - a Hornet Moth had emerged recently! A few days later I tried for a third time. There were five empty chrysalises, I appeared to have missed the emergence. A final check revealed a sixth one, and looking closely I saw that it hadn't opened! I gently eased it out and put it in a pot to take home for Cathy and Rose to watch the moth emerge, but in the few minutes it took for me to get home it had emerged! I put it in a large tank to allow the wings to enlarge and harden, then later took it back to the tree I had found it one. They really are spectacular moths. There is a closely related species called Lunar Hornet Moth, which has a similar life cycle but on Willows. I've not seen one of those, so the search goes on for some trees nearby that host Lunar Hornet.

NORWICH: Moths 16th June 2018

16th June 2018

Another go with the moth trap at home, and whilst only 29 moths of 14 species were caught, there was one new species for me, Crescent Bell (Epinotia bilunana) and most of the rest were new to the garden. Freyer's Pug, Common Marbled Carpet, Cream-bordered Green Pea and Treble Brown-spot  were the pick of the bunch.

NORWICH: Painted Lady arrival

Mid-June 2018

Painted Ladies are migratory butterflies, whose numbers fluctuate year to year. I saw my first of 2018 on a grassy area near my house on 15th June, a pristine individual. This species is sometimes bought and reared through by primary schools so that is always a possibility, but several other people on Twitter had also seen them in Norfolk around this time, and I saw another, more ragged individual, the week after.

NORWICH: Earlham Cemetery insect walk

10th June 2018

On Sunday the monthly Earlham Cemetery walk was focussed on hoverflies. We managed at least 12 species, with Epistrophe grossulariae and Melangyna labiatarum both new for me. Neither are particularly scarce, but they do require a close look to eliminate other species. I noticed a Cheilosia impressa on a buttercup flower, apparently a new species for the cemetery although I've seen it at Whitlingham and Thorpe in the past.

It was actually a very productive day for me in terms of new species, with a gall on Bay (known as Bay sucker), the beetle Tillus elongatus and Red-girdled Mining Bee all new. A sawfly on buttercup was identified as far as a Cephus sp - there are two very similar ones and apparently Benson's feature relating to the antennal segments isn't very useful, but at least I know next time to focus on the shape of the claws.

A gall on Holm Oak was also of interest. I keyed it out to genus Plagiotrochus, but it didn't really fit the discriptions of the two final possibilities in Redfern, the FSC galls key. Fortunately several national experts were familiar with them and identified it as Plagiotrochus quercusilicis. The county gall recorder has no previous records for this species in Norfolk, but that should be accompanied by two caveats, firstly that at least one knowledeable gall recorder in the county doesn't submit records at a local level and secondly that ideally new galls would be studied and bred out to provide ultimate confirmation of the identity of the causer.

NORWICH: Moths 9th June

9th June 2018

I put out the moth trap on Friday night and amongst the c25 individuals these three were of note, Miller and Turnip being new for the garden and Yellow-backed Clothes Moth (Monopsis obviella) being new for me.

NORWICH: Early June bits and pieces

w/c 4th June 2018

I've got rather behind with blog entries, partly by being busy, but also because of the range of local wildlife I've been finding on my daily commute. This week highlights were a Stock Dove in the garden of the Arts Centre and leaf mines of Phytomyza miniscula in cultivated Meadow-rue seen in Waterloo Park. Several Mint Moths were also seen.

WHITLINGHAM: A nice weevil and other invertebrates

3rd June 2018

On Sunday Cathy & I took Rose to Whitlingham for a walk with some friends. I sometimes have to be reminded not to dawdle on social occasions, but I managed to find a few bits and pieces as we went round without holding us up too much. These included the leaf mines of Phytomyza artemisivora in Mugwort, a Myathropa sp, five species of sawflies (sadly none actually identified to species) and the best looking of the bunch, a Hazel Leaf-rolling Weevil. I had seen the leaf rolls created by the latter on a number of occasions, but don't remember ever seeing the adult weevil before.

SOUTH NORFOLK: Redgrave & Lopham Fen

2nd June 2018

On our way back after an out-of-county trip, Jeremy, Vanna, Ian and I stopped at Redgrave and Lopham Fen for lunch and a look for Fen Raft Spiders. This reserve on the county border is mostly in Norfolk but managed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. I'd never visited before but will have to return at some point, as it was a large site with loads of wildlife. We took the shortest trail (the spider trail) but still found lots to look at.

One of the standout species was the Four-spotted Chaser, a common dragonfly but one that was present in very large numbers. I noticed that several of them were of a variety called praenubila, where the small black marks are replaced by larger black splodges (compare the middle individual to the bottom one on the second photo). Unfortunately the 'best' one was obscurred by vegetation, but it looked very smart in the field.

Other things that caught our attention were some quivering Aspen trees, several species of beetle including Chrysolina polita, Dead-nettle Leaf Beetle and the large caterpillars of Drinker Moth, Garden Tiger and Emperor moth. A Hobby was seen briefly chasing the dragonflies, and a brood of Shelducks were on one of the pools.

Further round I noticed an Anasimyia contracta hoverfly, my third member of this genus seen this year (I've never seen the two remaining ones). One of my other highlights was a rare spider, Marpissa radiata - one of the NNNS 'Norfolk's Wonderful 150 Species' being profiled for next year's anniversary celebrations. As we headed back towards Norwich I noticed a Little Owl in a roadside tree, and after reversing back we managed to get silhouetted views (we didn't leave the car to see it properly to avoid spooking it).

A quick diversion to Mulbarton failed to yield the Bee Orchid that we had hoped for, but on dropping Jeremy and Vanna off we were shown some Asparagus Beetles, another new species for me.