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: City centre Whitethroats

1st May 2019

Late April saw an arrival of Whitethroats across the country, and I noticed on Twitter that Mark Chipperfield had seen several in the castle gardens. Having not seen this species within the city centre (or on my walk to/from work - I know, so many lists) I made a detour after work and quickly located two, a singing male and a second more skulking bird. Only having my small camera with me these pictures fall into the 'record shot' category.

NORWICH: Lakenham Way basking insects

30th April 2019

With periodic sunny spells, I have been stopping at certain points on my way to or from work where there are patches of leaves that attract basking insects. I've seen some interesting species, including some I've never encountered before, although quite a few have only been identifiable to genus level. One of these was a Brachyopa hoverfly, a scarce genus usually associated with sap runs but identified by examining the shape of a tiny pit on the inside of the antennae.

 Anthomyia fly, possibly A. procellaris
 Unidentified sawfly sp
 Speckled Wood
Brachyopa sp, probably B. scutellaris

MID-NORFOLK: Buxton Heath in the rain

27th April 2019

A group of insect enthusiasts in the county are in the process of forming a Norfolk Entomological Group, and I had been invited to attend a meeting at Buxton Heath. I was pleased with the choice of venue, partly because its relatively close to Norwich, but also because there are quite a few heather-related species I've not seen before like Heather Shieldbug, Heather Ladybird and Hieroglyphic Ladybird. All of this was rendered rather academic though, as the weather was wet and windy.

We did stay for a couple of hours, seeing lots of Minotaur Beetles and a few other beetles in dung. Jeremy & Vanna caught a nice micro moth, Neofaculta ericetella, and I sweep-netted a spider I'd not seen before called Mangora acalypha. There were also some good specimens of Nail Fungus (Poronia punctata) growing on the pony dung. Until recently this was quite a scarce fungus, because the medication given to horses and ponies often kills it off. A couple of singing Woodlarks rounded off the trip.

NORWICH: Perfoliate Alexanders

25th April 2019

I received an email from Jo Parmenter to say that she had found the invasive non-native species Perfoliate Alexanders growing along the shady bit of riverside path near Pull's Ferry. I went along after work to have a look so that I would recognise it again, and this immediately paid off as I found another six plants about 1km along the river. This species is sometimes grown in gardens, but it is illegal to allow it to spread into the wider environment. By the time this blog is posted hopefully the plants will have been removed to prevent further spread.

WHITLINGHAM: April WeBS count & insects

21st April 2019

An online discussion that arose from Nick Moran's monthly patch species graph suggested that April is the most species-rich month for inlnad patches, and a quick number crunch showed that this was true for me too. So lots of potential for a good find on the April WeBS count?

With that build up, the quietness was almost inevitable. The tame Wigeon was still around the slipway, and looks like it might even oversummer. The reason for its tameness is unknown - I don't think it's ringed (although typing this I can't actually remember seeing it out of the water) so perhaps it has just attached itself to the Mallard. Certainly earlier in the year a flock of 8 Wigeon arrived and it didn't link up with them. Of the other ducks:

Tufted Duck 13
Gadwall 4
Teal 1

A Mute Swan was visible on a nest on the Great Broad, level with the ruined hall but the other side of the ditch so affording at least some protection from predators. A Great-crested Grebe was also on an easily-visible nest in thr conservation area. Two broods of Mallards were noted (both different to a brood seen on my last visit) and an Oystercatcher flew over. A Common Tern had a metal ring on its leg - no chance of reading it, but I'd be interested to hear where the nearest place is that rings Terns? There were no hirundines, but I did see my first Reed Warbler and Whitethroats of the year.

Amongst the other things noted, several Pied Shieldbugs showed well and I saw an interesting caterpillar with a pink stripe down the back. Very shoddily I forgot to record the foodplant (I suspect it might be a freshly-opening Sycamore based on the pictures) - if you recognise the caterpillar please let me know!

NORWICH: Catton Park hoverflies

Mid-April 2019

Local naturalist Susan Weeks had told me about some of the hoverflies that she had seen at Catton Park during April, and two of them were species that I'd not seen before, Parasyrphus punctulatus and Melangyna cincta. The former seems to be having a good year judging by online sightings. I had made a brief visit to Catton Park earlier in the month, but conditions were overcast and there were few hoverflies about. This time it was sunnier and I was more successful, finding Melangyna cincta basking on some leaves.

A circuit around taking in some more likely basking spots and flowers turned up some other insects, although no Parasyrphus. The highlight was a new plant bug for me, Deraeocoris lutescens, whilst some Common Oak Purple moths, Adonis Ladybird and a mating pair of 10-spot Ladybirds (a very variable species - I initially mistook them for Cream-streaked Ladybirds) were also seen.

WHITLINGHAM: Little Gull & diptera

18th April 2019

A quick evening visit to Whitlingham to catch up with some of the birds that had been passing through the valley recently was successful, with a single adult Little Gull hawking over the Great Broad and two Arctic Terns also present. Fortunately my vantage point was level with a large bank of brambles, and in a quiet moment I caught the rattle of a Lesser Whitethroat, whihc I eventually saw skulking about near the middle. Some insects were basking in the evening sun, including this Syrphus torvus and another that probably can't be identified from photos.

YARE VALLEY: Strumpshaw insects

Mid-April 2019

With a few hours spare one afternoon, we went for a family visit to Strumpshaw Fen. It was a lovely warm day and we saw quite a few butterflies, including my first Orange-tip, Speckled Wood and Green-veined White of the year. There was quite a bit of birdsong too, with my first Willow Warbler seen and Sedge Warbler heard. I kept an eye out for hoverflies but only saw a handful of common species, however there were a good range of bees including Andrena clarkella, Andrena nitida and Nomada leucophthalma. The beetle Silpha atrata was also seen and I did manage one new species, the fly Saltella sphondylii (kindly identified from images by Tony Irwin).

 Saltella sphondylii

Ferdinandea cuprea