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: The lockdown cometh - Day 1

Late March 2020

So as everyone will be aware, we are now in the unprecedented situation of being 'locked down', and with the exception of those fortunate enough to live in remote locations or on the edge of a nature reserve the focus of wildlife attention is likely to fall on our gardens. The Emerson family garden is a  smallish rectangle of space, with a lawn in the centre, a shed at the back and flower beds along three sides. It was fairly barren when we first moved in with the exception of three established conifer trees and a large Rose of Sharon bush. We have since planted it with various things, created a small pond and put up bird feeders.

Whilst we are in this situation I shall be recording and blogging about the wildlife that we see, partly as my own wildlife diary, but also to encourage others and perhaps help with the identification of thigs that you might be seeing. This will not have the depth that a 'proper' bioblitz would have , partly because my garden spells are likely to be accompanied by my young daughter, and partly because there are a range of things I will leave without identifying them to species as I won't be dissecting anything during this period. I also won't be blogging every day, because some days there just won't be anything interesting to blog about.

Boris Johnson declared the lockdown on the evening of Monday 23rd, but it was obviously coming so I began my listing on Sunday 22nd March, so that is my 'day 1'.

DAY 1 - 22nd MARCH

The first six species are ones that we see in the garden daily (the Lesser Black-backed Gulls flying over, the rest actually in the garden). Until quite recently Starlings were only occasional visitors, but having been given a mealworm feeder they now visit several times, in a group of up to 12, to empty the feeder. Maintaining it might end up being quite expensive, but they are nice to see!

1. Woodpigeon
2. Collared Dove
3. Blackbird
4. Blue Tit
5. Starling
6. Lesser Black-backed Gull

Goldfinch fly around our housing estate constantly, so are heard, and usually seen, anytime when I have spent more than about ten minutes in the garden. Chaffinches have frequented our garden a bit recently but can also usually be heard from the back garden.

7. Goldfinch
8. Chaffinch

Coal Tits are periodic visitors to our big conifer tree - fortunately this was one of the days when one turned up. House Sparrows are scarce actually in the garden (we have put up a terraced nest box for them but there has been no interest so far), but there is a small flock nearby and I heard them calling, enough to add them to the lockdown list.

9. Coal Tit
10. House Sparrow

We have lots of solitary bees flying around our Rose-of-Sharon and also on the Mahonia that grows against our outside wall. I suspected that they were Buffish Mining-bee (Andrena nigroaenea), and this ID was confirmed on the BWARS Facebook page.

11. Buffish Mining Bee (Andrena nigroaenea)


Whilst in the back garden I noticed a small fly twitching its wings in an unusual way. I suspected that this would be one of the Ulidiidae, picture winged flies, but couldn't find a match online. Posting it on Twitter I got some help from Ryan Mitchell, a Diptera enthusiast who works at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, who identified it as Geomyza tripunctata, a new species for me so a good start to the lockdown!

12. Geomyza tripunctata (an Opomyzid fly)


One other thing noted was a caterpillar spinning leaves together on the Rose-of-Sharon (Hypericum sp). I have seen similar things online identified as Lathronympha strigana larvae, but I don't know enough to be sure at the moment.


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