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

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

BROADLAND: NNNS 150th anniversary celebrations at How Hill

8th June 2019

Some readers will be aware that I am involved with the Norfolk & Norwich Naturalists's Society, and in 2019 the society is 150 years old. We have been organising various things as part of the celebrations, and one of them was a members day and meal at How Hill. It had been organised to coincide with the Swallowtail season (the Swallowtail butterfly being the emblem of the society), so it was rather frustrating when the day arrived and it was raining with 40mph gusty winds. Nevertheless we carried on and those that braved the weather had a good time.

Dan Hoare from the Broads Authority led a couple of walks around the nature reserve, and we managed to find a few bits of interest. An open area of marsh held a lovely display of Meadow Thistles, and further along Tony and I lent over from a bridge and checked some old Frogbit leaves, finding the very rare Frogbit Smut fungus on one of them. A windblown Norfolk Hawker and several Azure Damselflies were found as we walked around.

 Meadow Thistle
 Frogbit Smut
 Water Violet

After lunch we took a walk around the secret garden and I noticed a leaf mine in Sycamore. A closer look and I established that it was definitely a sawfly mine. It turned out to Heterarthrus cuneifrons, a new species to Norfolk, which was a nice end to the day.

WHITLINGHAM: Loads of new invertebrates

Late May 2019

In late May I headed to Whitlingham for a couple of hours after dropping Cathy off. Having given the broad a quick look and noted the lack of birdsong, I decided to focus on the picnic meadow. This paid off nicely with a string of new site records, quite a few of which were also new to me. Below are some of the more photogenic species:

 Agromyza johannae leaf mining Broom (new for me)
 Bee Orchid (present here for many years but only one spike seen today)
 Molanna angustata - a distinctive Caddisfly
 Ciona alauda - one of the weevils associated with Figwort, although seen here on Buddleia
 Eriocrania sangii - leaf mine of this scarce micro moth seen on Birch
 Eristalinus sepulchralis
 Kaliofenusa altenhoferi sawfly leaf mine on Elm
 Orthochaetes setiger weevil mine on Ribwort Plantain
 Common Red-legged Robberfly
Yellow Rattle - a surprise to see this, but almost certainly seeded here.

NORTH NORFOLK: Two-banded Longhorn and other bits

Late May 2019

A handful of highlights from some family trips out near the end of the month. The beetle was particularly good, it flew in and landed on the pushchair as we walked through asome woods.

 Young Little Grebe
 Puss Moth eggs on Poplar
 Bird's Nest Orchid

Two-banded Longhorn Beetle

CHILTERNS: Small Blue and some nice orchids

25th May 2019

After lunch at Dunstable we headed to another site about half an hour away to look for Small Blues. As we walked from the car park I noticed a weevil, which I recognised as the smaller of the two cramp ball weevils. This one was Platystomos albinus, a new species for me.

Heading across a meadow I saw my first Twayblades of the year along with several butterflies and day-flying moths. We then headed into the woods. I nearly didn't give a cardinal beetle a second glance as they are common this time of year, but fortunately I did pay enough attention to notice that it was actually a Black-headed Cardinal Beetle rather than the common red-headed species. Before emerging into a clearing one of the other tour participants pointed out a White Helleborine, a new orchid and my third new species in 30 minutes following the two beetles.

A scrubby meadow seemed a good place to hunt for the Fly Orchids that are present at this site and would have also been new for me, but we couldn't find any. We did find quite a few Greater Butterfly Orchids which was nice given their scarcity back home in Norfolk. A couple of plant cages held Meadow Clary, which I didn't fully appreciate as I assumed that the cages were there to protect areas that would later hold Chiltern Gentians.

We were ready to give up and head back to the car when a Small Blue was spotted along the edge of a woodland ride, completing a very successful trip.

CHILTERNS: The Duke of Burgundy

25th May 2019

Being keen to see some new butterflies this year I had booked onto Carl Chapman's tour to the Chilterns to look for Duke of Burgundy and Small Blue. The old car park on Bison Hill was closed, so we began at Dunstable Downs, where I saw a new species straightaway as a Slender-footed Robberfly landed on the roof of the car.

We headed down onto the chalky landscape and headed to a sheltered area of Hawthorn. A smal orangey butterfly flew past us without stopping - almost certainly my first Duke but not the sort of views I was hoping for. Luckily it didn't take long for much better ones, as I found one sitting up patiently nearby.

Carrying on around the rest of the site we saw Dingy Skippers and then eventually quite a few more Duke of Burgundies, including a pale one that seems to be the aberration leucodes. A Grizzled Skipper, Grass Rivulet moths, great views of a Red Kite and a metallic green chafer-type beetle (Cryptocephalus sp) completed a successful and pleasant visit.

WHITLINGHAM: May WeBS count & some butterflies

19th May 2019

A brief summary of the May WeBS count:

2 Gadwall and 17 Tufted Ducks still present. Mute Swan numbers up to 75, one pair of Canada Geese had two goslings and most pleasingly a pair of Great-crested Grebes had a least one young grebeling riding on the back of one of the parents. A Moorhen with a chick was also visible on the island. I had been told about a nesting pair of Treecreepers but didn't have much time, so I had to make due with watching one of them fly onto a dead tree and vanish Houdini-like into a crack in the bark.

Insect highlights included:

 Cheilosia variabilis
 Small Copper
Feeding signs of the micro moth Epinotia abbreviana

NORWICH: Some woolly Psyllid bugs

16th May 2019

On my way home from work I noticed some white 'fluff' on the branches of a Grey Alder. I looked closer and could see some small bugs in it, using the fluff as protection as they moved around the branches. I assumed, eroneously, that these would be a type of woolly aphid, but fortunately online Sally Luker recognised them as a type of psylloid bug, Psylla alni. This was a new species for me, and having found out about it I promptly went and found it at Whitlingham too.

NORWICH: Large Red Damseflies emerge

10th May 2019

One of my routes in to work takes me along a short stretch of the River Wensum, and on this occasion glancing at the foliage I noticed a Large Red Damselfly, recently emerged and having a rest.

NORWICH: Rue-leaved Saxifrage and my first Swift of the year.

8th May 2019

It was a rainy walk into work, but as I held my umbrella and looked down at the pavement I noticed a patch of the small but lovely plant Rue-leaved Saxifrage. I've seen it on some old buildings before, but seldom just amongst the old stones of Norwich. I know it does grow here, but it is just easy to overlook. Later on the showers abated and my first Swift of the year flew through, but even more pleasing was a Swallow, probably the first one I've seen in the city centre.

NORWICH: Bank holiday invertebrates

6th May 2019

Bank holiday Monday, and the main attraction was the Norwich City promotion parade and Hoolahan vs Martin testimonial match. Nevertheless it pays to keep looking around, and I saw a new Cranefly, Tipula rufina, resting on a bridge on our way into the city, and also saw a couple of Merodon equestris hoverflies in Margaret's garden.

WHITLINGHAM: Gull survey distractions

5th May 2019

Being a helpful type, I had agreed to survey three 1km squares as part of a national urban breeding gull survey. Two of these had been around the city, but the final one took in part of Whitlingham Sewage Works. This meant a dedicated visit, but also gave me a reason to visit one of the more neglected bits of my patch on the way, as the square in question also covered the far end of the woods.

Parking up in the woodland car park I tried to walk quickly to the part of the square that actually contains buildings, but naturally I did look at some insects on the way. These included two new Craneflies (Limonia phragmitidis and Tipula varipennis) for my patch list and a new ladybird, the bimaculata form of 10-spot Ladybird. I also found a sleeping nomad bee, which after consulting with Nick Owens turns out to be the rare-but-increasing Nomada ferruginata, which was new for me.

The sewage works turned out to have no visible breeding gulls, with only a handful of Herring Gulls loafing near the back (and some Black-headed Gulls, which aren't being counted for the survey). I did notice lots of Changing Forget-me-not and Bur Chervil, plus a Dolerus sp sawfly, before heading back to the car and home.