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: Earlham Cemetery plant hunt & fungi

4th January 2020

Continuing the theme of Norwich-based excursions, Cathy, Rose and I went to Earlham Cemetery to take part in the Friends of Earlham Cemetery event for BSBI's New Year Plant Hunt. There seemed to be fewer plants in flower than recent times, but I think the final total didn't necessarily back up that observation. We got a brief glimpse of a Muntjac, which pleased Rose (although not as much as the cat that accompanied us around a section of the cemetery).

Highlights of the visit were probably non-floral - we saw some good specimens of Striated Earthstar, before being shown some Lacquered Bracket (Ganoderma lucidum) and the eggs of a Vapourer Moth, laid on the cocoon that the female would have originally emerged from (the females are wingless in this species).

Having left the cemetery and gone shopping, I had a call from Gary White to say that he had found a Waxwing showing well on Edinburgh Road. I took a rather winding way home to look for it, intitially with no success, before hearing it call nearby. A look down the next road along and hey presto, a Waxwing perched up on a TV aerial on College Road. It didn't stay long, flying back towards the original location, but always nice to see this species around the city.

NORWICH: Kett's Heights

3rd January 2020

Having a couple of hours free, I headed up to Mousehold Heath and then walked across to St James' Hill, where you can get a fine view out across the city. I then carried on to visit a new site for me, Ketts Heights. This place, so-called because it was the meeting place for Robert Kett and his men in the 1749 attempt to take the city, is something of a hidden gem, with access through some unassuming gates off a busy road. I took some lunch up and had a very peaceful time, looking out over the cathedral. The view is arguably as good as that from St James' Hill, but it is more restricted by trees either side.

NORWICH: Train Wood and environs

2nd January 2020

Our Whitlingham trip on the first had come at a slight cost, with a nail in the tire. Unfortunately I didn't realise straight away and the tire was unrepairable, but fortunately when I did discover it I was at my in-laws nearby, as I didn't have a torch with me so changing it would have been tricky. Anyway, that meant that the next day was spent taking the car in to have a new tire fitted. Whilst I waited I went for a walk in Train Wood, adding a handful of extra birds to the previous day's total. A Coal Tit called from a conifer near the entrance, whilst a Long-tailed Tit flock roamed the wood. Having not seen Egyptian Geese at Whitlingham I noted a pair across the river at Wensum Park. I made a note of some plants in flower and some fungi, including a couple of small Scarlet Elf Cups.

Next along the path was Anderson's Meadow, and whilst recording Phytomyza chaerophylli, a common winter leaf miner in Cow Parsley, I noted some mines in Goosegrass. I had hoped it would be identifiable from the mine, but Barry Warrington advised me that it was likely to be an Aulagromyza but ideally wanted to be bred through for a firm ID.

It was a similar story further along at Sweetbriar. I spot checked a few ivy-covered trees in the hope of finding a small green spider that Vanna has found here recently, but was distracted by some leaf mines in Pendulous Sedge. They struck me as similar to the ones that I saw at Whitwell recently, that had been parasitised before pupation. At least one here did contain a puparium, which I photographed and hope that will be identified in due course. I then took walked across and joined the Marriott's Way path for a slow walk back home.

YARE VALLEY: End of 2019, start of 2020

1st January 2020

The end of 2019 saw a couple of short visits that I didn't get round to blogging about. Firstly a visit to a flooded Thorpe Marshes, where I was surprised by the amount of tree removal that had gone on, meaning the pools south of the marsh path are now completely visible and the edge of the broad has an open area. Of course its swings and roundabouts, there is now less scrub for small birds in that area but some potentially interesting new edge habitats. Two Stonechats were the only birds of note.

 Note that this is the path rather than a dyke

We also called in to Strumpshaw as a family one afternoon. Having shown Rose a Chinese Water Deer out on the marsh she announced she wanted to see "more deer". On our way back we then spotted two Muntjacs in the woods. Rather than satisfy her desire to see deer, this was greeted by "MORE deer" - I hope that each trip out isn't now going to be judged solely on the presence or absence of deer sightings.

The new year began in similar style to the previous one, as we had stayed at home watched Jools Holland and said rude words about people releasing fireworks all the time (seriously, if you have bought fireworks to celebrate New Years Eve, why release them at 23:30 or 00:30?) I managed to see 14 species from the house/garden, one up on 2019, followed by a Jay that flew over as we got in the car. We then headed down to Whitlingham for a family walk, seeing 24 species. The resident Barnacle Goose plus Shoveler and Little Egret were probably the most notable birds - Justin's drake Red-crested Pochards from the morning had departed and there was no sign of Schrodinger's Mandarin, which seems to exist in a quantum dimension inhabited only by other birders.


January 2020

Happy New Year everyone. Are you missing 2019 yet? Well why not look back on the previous year at Whitlingham and Thorpe using this handy bird report?

 Whitlingham Bird Report 2019