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

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

WHITLINGHAM: An overdue return & some insect photos

Mid May 2020

After about 8 weeks of lockdown, the rules on leaving the house were relaxed. To be fair, the initial rules allowed leaving the house for exercise, and once you untangled the difference between the official government advice, what senior ministers said in interviews, what the actual law was and the CPS enforcement guidance, you could basically go out anywhere reasonably close. Of course the rules are completely different to'being safe', which was much more of a discretionary thing. Understandably people dealt with this is different ways depending on their own circumstances. Despite my love of the outdoors, I decided that living in a busy urban area and with a local patch that was probably still going to be quite busy, I would not go out for exercise/birding unless I genuinely needed to leave the house, and I did manage to last the 8 weeks. At times this did mean quite a bit of envy towards those on social media who were living in quiet villages or near bird reserves and who were able to safely walk around encountering no-one and/or see 100+ species, but mostly I was quite prosaic about it.

Perhaps unwisely when measures were loosened no upper limit was placed on travel distance, and coastal communities were inundated. I quickly developed a frustration with the use of the phrase 'socially distanced', which seemed to be appearing regularly on social media and blogs as an almost legalese way of excusing trips out or behaviours common before the pandemic but perhaps a bit unwise at this moment in time. Of course, the best way to rid myself of these unecessary frustrations remind myself that it's up to other people what they choose to do was to get back out and visit my local patch again. 

I therefore made a morning visit to Whitlingham, and spent several hours taking in the warbler song (only Chiffchaffs had been present on my last visit), listening to a distant Cuckoo (even more pleasingly I heard a second bird further along towards the marsh). It wasn't too busy (as expected it got busier later on) and in addition to the bird song I enjoyed some of the simpler things, like the smell of Hawthorn blossom.

Definitely of secondary importance I did see a few species that I'd not recorded at Whitlingham before across several different species groups.

 Jewel Beetle sp.
 Hairy Shieldbug - a common species I've seen here a lot, but a nice picture of it
 Imported Willow Leaf Beetle - a really rubbish name, not sure how that got approved
Rhinocylus conicus - a weevil associated with thistle heads

NORWICH: Garden lockdown list days 55 & 56

DAY 55 - 14th MAY 2020

Having suspected that the Blue Tits had young in our nest box we actually heard them calling today!

DAY 56 - 15th MAY 2020

Several small beetles found in the back garden but I don't think they are distinctive enough to identify. There was also a rust fungus on our Snapdragons, which I'd not recorded before.

116. Puccinia antirrhini (a rust fungus)

NORWICH: Garden lockdown list days 51-54 - a few moths

DAY 51 - 10th MAY 2020

A couple more photos of birds taken with my bridge camera. With some warm weather overnight I had hoped for a moth bonanza, but made do with four moths, 1 each of Common Plume (seen already this year), Shuttle-shaped Dart, Turnip Moth and Treble Lines. There was also a spider tucked into the top of the trap, which i didn't identify.

110. Turnip Moth
111. Treble Lines
112. Shuttle-shaped Dart

DAY 52 - 11th MAY 2020

Not necessarily seen on this day, but three species seen in the house recently and not recorded earlier were:
113. Varied Carpet Beetle
114. Case-bearing Clothes Moth
115. Pholcus phalangioides (spider)

DAY 53 - 12th MAY 2020

Nothing new added

DAY 54 - 13th MAY 2020

Nothing new added, but a ladybird pupa found on strawberry leaves. Rose likes ladybirds, and once told that it would hatch into an adult ladybird she proceeded to check it every five minutes or so because she wanted to hold the 'daddy ladybird'.

NORWICH: Garden lockdown list days 47 - 50 including a nice rove beetle

DAY 47 - 6th May 2020

Most of the white butterflies flying through the garden still refuse to land, but I managed to confirm that at least one of them was a Large White. I also found a nice multi-coloured rove beetle, that with help from Tim and Calum I managed to confirm was Paederus riparius. Rose found a small spider, but I've not identified it and doubt it will be identifiable from this.

106. Large White
107. Paederus riparius (a rove beetle)

DAY 48 - 7th MAY 2020

108. Small Purple-and-gold (Pyrausta aurata) - a small attractive moth, also known as the mint moth, seen in the garden.

DAY 49 - 8th MAY 2020

109. Large Red Damselfly - Cathy noticed this flying up the window and I managed to get a silhouetted photo as it flew onto the roof of the adjacent garages. This species is the only regular odonate here, although there is no sign of them breeding in the pond yet.

DAY 50 - 9th MAY 2020

Nothing new added.

NORWICH: Garden lockdown list days 45 & 46 - another sawfly

DAY 45 - 4th MAY 2020

No new additions

DAY 46 - 5th MAY 2020

Butterflies have made a habitat of flying straight through our garden, ignoring our flowery offerings, which has kept the species list down a bit. Today a Speckled Wood at least had the good grace to flap up the outside of the living room window for long enough for Cathy & I to both see and identify it. Out in the garden a few leaf mines had begun to show themselves, including Agromyza abiens in Viper's Bugloss (the plant having been purchased from Natural Surroundings to go in our driest flower bed and we hope will flower for the first time this summer) and Agromyza nigrescens in the Round-leaved Cranesbill.

102. Speckled Wood
103. Agromyza abiens (occupied leaf mine caused by an Agromyzid Fly)
104. Agromyza nigrescens (occupied leaf mine caused by an Agromyzid Fly)

There was also more sawfly fun. I recognised this one as a smaller member of the Athalia genus (Athalia rosae is a common species regualrly encountered over the summer and there are another 8ish lookalikes). Fortunately this was one of the easier ones to identify as it has a black 'belt' that runs down the sides and underneath at the top of the abdomen. One of the larval foodplants is Bugle, which figures as we've got quite a bit of it in the garden.

105. Athalia cordata (a sawfly) (NEW)

NORWICH: Garden lockdown list day 44 - 100 species up at last

DAY 44 - 3rd MAY 2020

Some people running garden moth traps will have probably reached 100 moths alone by now, although feedback on social media seems to indicate that numbers seem to be down in many places this year - hopefully just due to cold nights rather than further declines. I put my actinic trap out overnight and there was nothing in it in the morning, however fortunately I noticed one moth on the outside of the trap. It was a Muslin Moth, a new one for the garden which was nice.

97. Muslin moth

It was another warm day and this meant a few more insects about, including Early Bumblebee, the common hoverfly Platycheirus albimanus and a Pine Ladybird found by Cathy whilst checking on her rocket and lettuce plants. The latter species was new for the garden and brought up my garden lockdown list 100 species, hurrah!

98. Early Bumblebee
99. Platycheirus albimanus (a hoverfly)
100. Pine Ladybird

I also caught a smallish black hoverfly and with a bit of help from Andy Musgrove ran it through two keys, firstly the AIDGap key by Wright to get it to genus, then the old Benson key to get it to species. Even then it wasn't straightforward as this particular species had changed genus since Benson's time. Anyway, I was pleased to have recorded a new sawfly, Cladius brullei. The name sounded vaguely familiar, so I checked and realised that I had recorded the larvae of this species on raspberry plants a few feet away from where I found this one last year! Still, nice to see the different stages I told myself.

101. Cladius brullei (a sawfly)

NORWICH: Garden lockdown list days 42 & 43

DAY 42 - 1st May 2020

Daily visits from a pair of Magpies have given a bit of variety to the daily birds, but could mean any birds breeding in our tree or nest box will be in trouble. In the garden a Common Carder Bee was new for the year but avoided the camera, whilst a cranefly was the fairly distinctive Tipula vernalis. At this rate I might actually hit 100 species before midsummer!

95. Common Carder Bee
96. Tipula vernalis (a cranefly)

DAY 43 - 2nd May 2020

A pair of Chaffinches are now visiting more regularly and I got a record shot of the female today to go with all of the other blurry through-the-window shots. Some aphids and mildew were found on a Dandelion but no names for them so far.


NORWICH: Garden lockdown list days 33-41 - one beetle addition

DAY 33 - 22nd APRIL
Nothing new added

DAY 34 - 23rd APRIL
Nothing new added

DAY 35 - 24th APRIL
Nothing new added

DAY 36 - 25th APRIL
Nothing new added

DAY 37 - 26th APRIL

The Red Campion is covered in aphids - unfortunately there are two very similar species that need to be separated by counting the microscopic hairs on one of the antennal segments. I might end up doing it eventually. Tentatively they can go down as Brachycaudus lychnidis species group, but not on the list yet.

One from before that did make it was the Springtail stalker beetle that had previously given me the slip. I managed to pot one and key it out as Common Springtail Stalker, Notiophilus biguttatus.

94. Common Springtail Stalker Notiophilus biguttatus.

DAY 38 - 27th APRIL
Nothing new added

DAY 39 - 28th APRIL
Nothing new added but a male House Sparrow came into the garden, which was nice to see.

DAY 40 - 29th APRIL
Nothing new added

DAY 41 - 30th APRIL
Nothing new added

NORWICH: Garden lockdown list - days 31 & 32 - almost a county first...

DAY 31 - 20th April

The garden doesn't get many hoverflies but there was a different species today - a female Syrphus ribesii (the all-yellow femur, not really visible here, allows identification)

89. Syrphus ribesii

DAY 32 - 21st April 

I didn't go into the garden until mid-afternoon, and even then I had one eye on Rose, who was trying to fill her paddling pool with cypress litter. Whilst out I noticed a groundbug sp dead in a cobweb, so I got it down and took a few photos. At that point a gust of wind caught it and blew it off the box I had laid it on. I didn't think much more of it until I came inside and checked it on British Bugs, at which point I began to be a bit concerned that it looked like Eremocoris fenestratus, a species with no confirmed Norfolk records. Most frustratingly, there was a very similar species that could only be ruled out by inspecting the leg hairs. I went back out to try to locate the windblown specimen, with no luck. Tristan Bantock confirmed on Twitter that it was either E. fenestratus or E. abietinus - both would be new for Norfolk! I have since spent time sorting through the dry cypress litter but have yet to find any more. On a more prosaic note I noticed some Groundsel in the garden, complete with Groundsel rust.

 Eremocoris sp - the one that got blew away!

90. Groundsel
91. Groundsel Rust (Puccinia lagenophorae)
92. Bluebell Rust (Uromyces muscari)
93. Common Froghopper (nymph in Cuckoo Spit)

NORWICH: Garden lockdown list day 30

DAY 30 - 19th April

Another spell of sunny weather saw a little cluster of garden additions. A couple of House Martins flew over, my first hirundines of the year and the only one I usually see from home. A calling Jackdaw was also new for the lockdown list. Two more of the bug-like flies were on the shed and I saw them well enough to satisfy myself they are indeed Tachypeza nubila. A hoverfly seen resting on the Rose-of-Sharon was Epistrophe eligans, an annual visitor here. The regular species have become very much part of the routine too - the female Hairy-footed Flower Bee that visits the Lungwort each morning is a welcome guest, whilst Rose wandered up to me whilst I was photographing the Dark-edged Bee-fly and looked down and said "Bee-fly", suggesting that she has now seen it enough to recognise it.

83. House Martin
84. Jackdaw
85. Tachypeza nubila
86. Eipostrophe eligans

Of the rest of the things seen, a spider might be a Xysticus sp, the mildew developing on one of the lungwort plants should be Golvinomyces cynoglossi (but in Europe this is treated as a species complex and the species found on Lungwort is called Golvinomyces asperifoliorum) and having made no effort to look for woodlice I saw Common Pill Woodlouse (Armadillidium vulgare) amongst the cypress litter.

87. Golvinomyces cynoglossi s.l.
88. Common Pill Woodlouse

NORWICH: Garden lockdown list - days 26-29

DAY 26 - 15th APRIL

Cathy was planting some rocket and lettuce seeds when she noticed a long centipede in the planting tub. I own the Aidgap Centipedes key but had not used it previously, so thought this would be a good time to have a go. Eventually I got there, helped in part by the fact that it was getting on for 7cm long, which rules out most of the species. The key did seem to work OK, but started off with some features that were quite tricky to see on a constantly moving live centipede (keys for things like this are typically written with dead specimens in mind).

80. Haplophilus subterraneus

Also whilst out I saw a Moth Fly, a nice little thing but one of about 80 similar species, and more interestingly a small leafhopper on garden Red Campion, Hauptidia maroccana, which appears to have very few Norfolk records.

81. Hauptidia maroccana

DAYS 27 & 28 - 16th and 17th APRIL

No additions

DAY 29 - 18th APRIL

82. Herring Gull

Also nice views of a Zebra Spider