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

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

YARE VALLEY: Strumpshaw fungus foray

21st October 2018

For the last few years I've helped out with a fungus walk at Strumpshaw Fen, and the time had come round for the first of this years two walks. There appear to be fewer fungi around than recent autumns, probably due to the prolonged period of dry weather over the summer, but the walk was still fully booked and we managed to find around 35 species. There was a decent range too, with Milkcaps, Brittlegills, Bonnets, Inkcaps, Stinkhorn, brackets and jelly fungi all seen. Phlebia rufa, an encrusting jelly fungus was a new one for me.

 Bitter Bracket
 Snapping Bonnet
 Phlebia rufa
 Conical Brittlestem

There was little time for looking at non-fungal species, but I did notice some lighthouse galls on Ground-ivy, several Agromyzid mines and the feeding signs of Elm Zigzag Sawfly. After the walk it was straight back to Norwich, where after a long queue we got in to see Chris Packham give a talk encompassing photography and environmental activism amongst other topics.

THORPE MARSHES: Cowpat community & a new hoverfly

14th October 2018

After completing the wildfowl counts on the Whilingham side of the river I headed round to Thorpe. The combined counts are discussed in the previous post - a single Shoveler was the only waterbird of note. A Skylark flew over, and there was no sign of the recently returned Stonechats.

The cattle were still on the marsh, and a poke of a cowpat revealed a Staphylinid beetle and an Aphodius sp, sadly neither identifiable to species from my hasty photos. Further round two dung fungi were doable, Cheilymenia stercoraria and Ascobolus fufuracea.

Species of the day was a new hoverfly for me, Dasysyrphus tricinctus, found on Hogweed as I completed my circuit.

WHITLINGHAM: October WeBS count & leaf mines

14th October 2018

Wildfowl numbers often steeply increase in either October or November, but perhaps not too unexpectedly given the continued warm weather this hadn't happened yet. There was a bit more variety than in September, but numbers were generally low. In addition to 2 Wigeon, 2 Shoveler (one each at Whitlingham and Thorpe), 1 Pochard and 4 Teal, the key counts were:

Mute Swan: 22 (2017: 24, 2016: 36)
Gadwall: 48 (2017: 6, 2016: 25) 
Mallard: 63 (2017: 57, 2016: 54)
Tufted Duck: 52 (2017: 4, 2016: 24)
Coot: 96 (2017: 58, 2016: 163)
Cormorant:69 (2017: 66, 2016: 43)

Analysing the numbers back at home I was a bit surprised to see that with the possible exception of Coot, the October counts were actually on the high side for the time of year. It remains to be seen if this trend continues into November, or if the arrival has just begun a bit earlier this year. Away from the water a small flock of Siskins called, and a trickle of Redwings and Meadow Pipits flew over. A Chiffchaff singing from the east end of the Great Broad  added an early spring feel to the day.

A leaf mine of Stigmella aceris was found in Norway Maple, a new site record. Occupied mines of Stigmella basiguttella in Oak and Stigmella tiliae in Lime were also good to see (my Whitlingham leaf mine guides will be updated at some point this winter).

 Stigmella aceris
 Stigmella basiguttella
 Stigmella tiliae

BRECKLAND: Cranwich lunchtime leafminers

13th October 2018

Whilst most of the Lynford attendees either went to a nearby restaurant for lunch or pottered around the car park, Stewart and I visited Cranwich Camp for a working lunch. The aim was to see some scarce poplar leaf mines, and we were successful, seeing Ectoedemia hannerovella in hybrid Black Poplar then Ectoedemia turbidella and Phyllonorycter comparella in Grey Poplar.

 Ectoedemia hannerovella
 Ectoedemia turbidella
 Phyllonorycter comparella

Having checked lots of sorrel leaves for the red spiral-like mines of Enteucha acetosae, we found one presumably aborted and slightly phallic mine. Stewart pointed out a case on Yarrow made by Coleophora argentula and I noticed some Coleophora feeding signs on Common Rock-rose that turned out to be Coleophora potentillae.

 Enteucha acetosae
 Coleophora argentula
 Coleophora potentillae feeding signs
 Coleophora potentillae case

A quick walk down the track turned up a couple of naturalised garden throwouts, Virginia Creeper and Cotoneaster simonsii. That concluded a very productive lunch break - there was even time to eat some food too. Thanks as ever to Stewart for sharing his knowledge and finding skills.

BRECKLAND: Lynford leaf-miner day

13th October 2018

Every couple of years the Norfolk Moth Survey hold a daytime walk looking for leaf mines, and this year it was held at Lynford. It was led by national experts John Langmaid and Brian Elliott, and attended by a large number of Norfolk & Suffolk moth folk. I attended the morning half at Lynford Arboretum, although having seen some photos it appears that the more interesting species (including two on Viper's Bugloss) were found in the afternoon at Lynford Water after I had left.

Despite the large number of trees in the arboretum, there was only a modest number of species recorded (I made it about 35), because many of the foreign trees don't have corresponding miners here in the UK. A selection of the more interesting moth mines were Stigmella basigutella in Oak, Larch Case-bearer, Coleophora laricella, Ectodemia atrifrontella or E. longicaudella in Oak bark and Stigmella alnetella (usually this species is listed as having to be bred through to confirm, but it was identified by John Langmaid who has written books about micro moths). 

 Ectodemia atrifrontella or E. longicaudella
Stigmella alnetella

Of the non-moth mines, Agromyza sulfuriceps in Meadowsweet was only my second record, and there were two new sawfly mines - Metallus pumilus in Bramble and Fenusella glaucopis in Aspen.

 Agromyza sulfuriceps
 Metallus pumilus
Fenusella glaucopis

NORWICH: Not seeing a Rose-coloured Starling

Mid October 2018

When news emerged mid-week that there was a Rose-coloured Starling in New Costessey, I was cautiously optimistic that it would stay for a while and I would therefore be able to catch up with it at the weekend. As it turned out, this was half right. Despite only being about 5 miles away as the crow flies, Costessey is a good 20-25 minute drive, sometimes more at rush hour. Rose-coloured Starlings often turn up in gardens, but usually at least show for a lot of the time on nearby hedges or rooftops. This one was spending a lot of time in one small garden, out of sight of the road. In total I visited three times, twice after work and once after a day out, without seeing it. Apparently early mornings were better, but that didn't fit in with my other commitments. A shame, as I would have loved to have seen one around the city, but there is only so much time you can spend on a housing estate before deciding to cut your losses.

Still, good to see Ricky Clovelly* Cleverley in the news discussing how much the bird stuck out like a sore thumb :-)

* In an otherwise nice article about Ricky's patch birding at Thorpe Marshes for 'Tern', they mispelled his surname, which some of us haven't forgotten.

NORTH NORFOLK: Templewood autumn fungi

6th October 2018

This was a return visit to the private Templewood estate near Northrepps, where the owner is building up a list of wildlife records. Our previous visit had been in spring, so many of the species we found were new to the site, and despite the tally initially seeming quite modest, with the help of Stewart's plant fungi records we got up to a respectable 118 species.

Before setting off we had a look at a few things that members had brought to show. Knowing that I hadn't seen many autumn moths Stewart had brought some, including Green-brindled Crescent &| Merveille de Jour, plus some Andromeda Lacebugs. Keith also had a Wood Hedgehog fungus to show.

Of the fungi species that we found there were a handful of new ones for me including Rooting Poisonpie, Mycena diosma and several Conocybes. A tiny yellow waxcap, Hygrocybe vitellina, and Physisporinus vitreus, a white jelly-like fungus covering liverworts. Many thanks to Eddie for hosting the group.

 Pink Domecap
 Rooting Poisonpie
 Green Elfcup
 Orange Bonnet
 Physisporinus vitreus
 Hygrocybe vitellina


29th September 2018

Autumn is the time to look out for the recently colonised Ivy Bee (Colletes hederae), which emerges to feed on ivy blossom. Some people are lucky enough to have them in their lawns, where they form mating balls as the males try to mate with newly emerged females, but more oftenly they are just seen at Ivy flowers. Although a similar size to honeybees, Ivy Bees can be identified from the noticeable bands of buff hairs running across the abdomen. I'm yet to record them from Whitlingham (there is some good looking ivy along Whitlingham Lane at both the Trowse and CP ends) but they have been seen around west and south Norwich. My first sighting of the year was whilst visiting relatives in Edingthorpe.

NORWICH: Earlham Cemetery galls walk

23rd September 2018

On Sunday I was due to lead a walk for the Friends of Earlham Cemetery looking at leaf miners and plant galls. Heavy rain was forecast and we thought would put everyone off, but in the end a core of hardy participants braved the weather and gathered at the cemetery gates. Vanna had been looking at galls here recently and so was able to direct us to several interesting finds, whilst we also found a good range of leaf mines.

Gall highlights included:
 Eupontania pedunculi
 Artichoke Gall (Andricus foecundatrix)
 Andricus gemmeus
Neuroterus anthracinus

Of the leaf mines, Nemorimyza posticata was a good one, and Phyllonorcyter schreberella appears to be new for me.

As well as the leaf mines and galls we also saw a Juniper Shieldbug, late instar Megacoelum infusum, lots of Ant Woodlice and a Spotted Snake Millipede. Thanks to everyone that did make it and found enough to keep us interested despite the rain.

WHITLINGHAM: Bat evening

20th September 2018

On Thursday evening there was a bat evening at Whitlingham, organised by the Norwich Bat Group and Broads Authority. This was intended to be the 'adults' version following a childrens one in August, but as it happened a group of children were accommodated on this walk too. After an introductory talk we were shown some rescue bats that are being kept by a licenced bat worker for educational purposes.

 Common Pipistrelle
 Brown Long-eared Bat
 Noctule Bat

We left the barn a bit too late to see Noctules, but there was a lot of Soprano Pipistrelles about. The main reason for attending the event was the opportunity to see Nathusius's Pipistrelles being caught and ringed as part of a national project, so despite slightly inclement weather I was keen to visit the harp traps. Fortunately some other attendees also wanted to have a look, and we arrived just as two bats were ready to be processed. I had seen Nathusius's Pipistrelles here in fight before, but it was very interesting to see them in the hand and the various checks to make sure the in-hand ID was correct.

Thanks to all those involved with an interesting evening.