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 AREA: Plants and moths at Trowse

17th July 2018

Having a spare hour one evening I decided to do a quick lap around Trowse Meadow before heading off patch and walking along the river between Trowse and Old Lakenham. I speculatively checked an area of Common Meadow-rue for the caterpillars of Marsh Carpet, a rare and attractive moth that is occasionally caught west of the city. Sadly I couldn't find any. I did find a new plant, Ploughman's Spikenard, followed by a leaf mine of the micro moth Flame Crest (Chrysoesthia drurella). Sadly the mine was vacant so no chance of rearing out the moth.

YARE VALLEY: Cramp Ball Weevil at last

15th July 2018

In May I had the opportunity to visit a private wood at Postwick along with Jeremy, Vanna and Ian  to record wildlife for the owner. We had a good time and recorded some interesting species, so had agreed to visit again in July to do more recording. The England football team had briefly threatened to alter my plans by getting to the world cup semi-finals, but by losing meant that I didn't have to leave early to watch the final.

We recorded a good range of species, many different to those recorded on our previous visit. The undoubted highlight for me was the Cramp Ball Weevil (Platyrhinus resinosus), a species I've wanted to see for years but despite seeing hundreds of Cramp Balls had not come across. It could have got away again, as when Vanna noticed something on a plant stem it dropped to the ground, a common beetle defence mechanism. Fortunately I had seen enough to think that it looked interesting, so I kept looking until I located it on the ground, even with the very passable bird-dropping camouflage on the underside.

Of the rest of the species several interesting micro-moths were seen, including the mine of Heliozela resplendella, Ash Bud Moth and Alder Signal. I recorded 17 Agromyzid leaf mines, including Phytomyza agromyzina on Dogwood, probably the commonest species that I had yet to see.

The leafhopper Evacanthus interruptus, conopid Conops flavipes and soldierfly Dioctria baumhaueri were also of note.

WHITLINGHAM: July WeBS count and zigzag sawfly

15th July 2018

A hot morning at Whitlingham for the July WeBS count, with only the expected waterbirds recorded. A Reed Warbler was still singing, and some Swifts were screeching around overhead although I've not seen any near the Swift tower in the car park. Mute Swan and Greylag numbers were much higher than the past two July counts. Mallard numbers were much lower than 2017, but in line with 2016.

Mute Swan: 114 (2017: 85, 2016: 74)
Greylag Goose: 72 (2017: 26, 2016: 20)
Mallard:83 (2017: 155, 2016: 81)
Tufted Duck: 2 (2017: 0, 2016: 7)

I had arranged to go on to Postwick after Whitlingham, so didn't have time to linger, but did quickly nip to the picnic meadow. This year has been good for Hairstreaks, and after years of looking I managed to see my first patch Purple Hairstreak around the top of a large Oak. I couldn't find any White-letter Hairstreaks around some Elms, but did find Elm Zigzag Sawfly feeding signs and a larva. This species is a recent non-native arrival and can quickly defoliate trees, making it a potential pest species. A leaf mine in Water Mint caused by Phytomyza tetrasticha was a new one for me.

EAST NORFOLK: Winterton sharp-tailed bee

12th July 2018

During a work trip to Winterton Dunes I noticed a few species of interest, notably Large Sharp-tailed Bee (Coelioxys conoidea), the beetle Sermylassa halensis and Long-legged Tabby moth (Synaphe punctalis). Three Brent Geese flew south over the sea and terns called in the distance.

NORWICH: Local moth highlights

Late June/early July

In addition to leaf mines and bees, I've also seen some nice moths around Norwich in the past few weeks. Horehound Longhorn moth (Nemophora fasciella) is a scarce day-flying moth that I have been looking out for since one was seen at Whitlingham a few years ago. I finally managed to see one on my way home via Train Wood. Even then I almost missed it, as it was on some 2metre high Hogweed. Fortunately I noticed the antennae sticking up over the edge and having held my camera above my head, gently bent the stem down until I could see it.

A second highlight was an Orache moth, a rare migrant species (formally resident in East Anglia over 100 years ago) with bright mossy green areas. James Lowen had caught one, and kindly allowed me to pop over and have a look.

Other moths of interest were commoner species attracted to my garden for the first time, of which Elephant Hawk Moth, Green Silver-lines and Scallop Shell were all great to see.

NORWICH: Flower Bees and Wool Carder Bees

Late June 2018

This year appears to be a very good one locally for the Four-banded Flower Bee, Anthophora quadrimaculata. There have been reports from several places around Norwich, but I have been enjoying watching up to four on the strip of garden along the front of city hall. They have pale green eyes, and are not to be confused with the rarer Anthophora bimaculata, which tends to be found in heathy areas.

The other species of solitary bee to keep an eye out for is the Wool Carder Bee. It favours a plant called Lamb's Ear, and has been seen nectaring on populations of this plant at Earlham Cemetery and Waterloo Park - unfortunately not so far on the plants near city hall where I watch the Anthophoras. Last year I saw a female, a smart looking but small bee. This year I saw a male in Waterloo Park, a much bigger creature with spikes at the back. Definitely worth checking any Lamb's Ear near you.

NORWICH: June/July leaf-miner catchup

Late June/July

My target for the spring had been to reach 50 species of Agromyzid leaf miner, but actually I've now passed 60 species, not counting various species pairs and aggregates. I won't inflict all of them on you, but some of the more interesting ones are shown below, along with a couple of interesting moth mines.

Probably the pick of the bunch was Nemorimyza posticata in Canadian Goldenrod in the city centre, a new species for Norfolk with about 15 records for the UK.

Next up was Liriomyza puella, a recent colonist on Nipplewort. My find of it in a friend's garden was only the 6th UK record, so it would have taken top billing had I not found the 4th UK record (and 1st Norfolk record) last year! As often happens, I found it again a few days later.

You'd struggle to call many leaf mines spectacular to look at, but I think that Phytomyza bipunctata on Globe Thistle qualifies. This was new to Norfolk when I found it last year at Waterloo Park.

Another species I'd been trying to find was Aulagromyza tremulae on Aspen, and I managed to find it on a tree near the Wensum.

Other new species for me included Phytomyza aquilegia, Liriomyza sonchi, Agromyza nigrescens and Phytomyza hellebori.

In terms of moths I found mines of Chrysoesthia sexguttella on Chenopodium, the first city centre record for 15 years, before finding it again in TG21 where it was a new 10km square record. This was followed by a Phyllonorycter-like fold on Rowan caused by Parornix scoticella, again a new TG21 record.