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: Zombie aphids

8th July 2020

A rainy walk back from the city, but I decided to take a different route back and followed the river for a while. This paid off when I noticed a thin leaf mine in a patch of Winter Heliotrope. Back at home I checked it and found that it was caused by the Agromyzid fly Phytomyza tussilaginis, which based on the recording scheme database is new to Norfolk.

There was another interesting find a bit further along, when I found what looked like some very round brown aphids. Online they were recognised as 'aphid mummies', the outer shells of aphids that have been parasitised by tiny wasps. I wasn't able to identify the original aphid or the causer, but still of great interest and something I can now keep a look out for. I also saw the scarce Rustyback Fern in the same place I've seen it in previous years.

NORWICH: Some nice bees

5th July 2020

After completing the WeBS count I detoured home via Jeremy and Vanna's garden. The main reason for the visit was to pick up my copy of Vanna's book "Arthropedia" (previously reviewed on this blog but using a digital copy as publishing and then lockdown restrictions meant I couldn't get a physical copy). True to form there were lots of bees in the garden including a little and large double act with the Hylaeus (Yellow-face) bees. Several male Large Yellow-face Bees (Hylaeus signatus) were on some Weld, whilst Vanna had just caught a Small Yellow-face Bee (Hylaeus pictipes). Also in the garden was one of the beautiful Hedychrum nobile/niemelai ruby-tailed wasps, and because it would be rude to go home without seeing something new Vanna caught and confirmed a Colletes similis bee that was feeding on some flowers in the garden (a species I've probably seen before but has to be caught and keyed to be sure).

WHITLINGHAM: July WeBS counts plus some Fiddle Dock

5th July 2020

Another early-in-the-month WeBS date, and back into the swing of things now. Nothing out of the ordinary seen in terms of birds, although the Barnacle Goose is still present - it will be a whole year next month. There were still large numbers of summer wildfowl, the 2020 counts below along with those from the past three years. In particular note that both Greylag and Canada Goose numbers are double the 2019 counts, which were already higher themselves than the previous two years. Egyptian Goose numbers are roughly stable, whilst Mallard numbers were lower.

Selected counts:
Mute Swan 84 (2019: 108, 2018: 114, 2017: 85)
Greylag Goose 186 (2019: 91, 2018: 72, 2017: 26)
Canada Goose 137 (2019: 71, 2018: 9, 2017: 32)
Egyptian Goose 25 (2019: 31, 2018: 8, 2017: 33)
Mallard 68 (2019: 91, 2018: 83, 2017: 155)

I should also mention that several of the Mute Swans had orange leg rings with black lettering. This is a long standing East Anglian ringing project that has received new emphasis recently, with UEA Ringing Group member Stephen Vickers ringing around 50 swans locally. If you do see one and can read the ring then please report it to the scheme organiser Mike Reed using the details on this link (if you see it at Whitlingham I would appreciate hearing about it too!)

As always I kept a look out for anything of interest on my way round. Batia lunaris was a smart little moth on the hedge near the car park, whilst Fiddle Dock was a new species for my site plant list, as was Short-fruited Willowherb (I'd genuinely not seen the former here before, whilst I had seen the latter but not identified it correctly). The small soldierfly Pachygaster atra was already on the site list having been recorded by Tim Hodge but was new for me, and finally using the new ALS lure I confirmed that Lunar Hornet Moths are present on site. I had long thought they probably were, but had been unable to find any exit holes - perhaps they are lower down the trunk than Hornet Moth, and therefore hidden in the udnergrowth.

Batia lunaris

Fiddle Dock

Short-fruited Willowherb
Pachygaster atra
Ceratapion gibbirostre (a long pointy weevil on thistles)
Lunar Hornet Moth

NORTH NORFOLK: Overstrand beach

Early July 2020

We hadn't been to the coast since the start of February, so decided that instead of going for a woodland walk we would have a stroll on the beach. Deciding to avoid the busier ones we picked Overstrand, which worked out quite nicely. There were surprisingly few shells and things along the strandline, but the groynes proved interestingly. They were covered in Sprial Wrack, and with a bit of searching we found several Sea Slaters tucked away in the cracks. I also noticed a thin orangey sandhopper, which unfortunately could only be identified down to a species pair. In addition there were lots of interesting flies on the beach with white flashes on their faces. Tony Irwin identified them as Aphrosylus celtiber, a scarce species with few Norfolk records.

NORWICH: Some more commute highlights

1st July 2020

A pleasant walk back from work, no particularly scarce species seen but some things of note, including a Bee-wolf and only my second sighting of the hoverfly Riponnensia splendens.

Flowering Rush - a rubbish picture of a fairly scarce plant, growing in the river near Barn Road
A young Field Grasshopper, developing a nice pink colour
Rose Campion - a naturalised garden plant
Common Yellow-face Bee
Volucella zonaria
Riponnensia splendens

BIRDS ON BEER: Magpie Brewery

End of June 2020

During May I had placed an order for some beer from Northumbria, including some of the excellent From The Notebook seabird themed beers. For June I decided to get a mixed order from Magpie Brewery, which as you'd expect specialise in Corvid-themed beers. As well as a variety of Magpie beers I got to try Jay IPA and Raven Stout, all of which were very good. The other brewery that I'd love to order from are Thames Side Brewery who do Egyptian Goose, Cormorant and Wryneck ales amongst others, but at the moment they don't ship their bottles around the country.

NORWICH: Garden lockdown list days 98 to 101 (the last day by day summaries)

DAY 98 - 27th June 2020

A Sphaerophoria hoverfly was present in the back garden, but it was a female, which cannot be assigned to species.

DAY 99 - 28th June 2020

Nothing new added

DAY 100 - 29th June 2020

205. Red Admiral - one flew through the garden

DAY 101 - 30th June 2020

A handful of new additions, plus a fly that looks like it should be fairly distinctive. There were beginnings of a rust on Creeping Buttercup, but with several rusts on that host I've not added that. An Ophiomya sp mine also hasn't made it onto the list.

206. Nemorimyza posticata (leaf mine in Canadian Goldenrod)
207. Dicyphus epilobii (a small bug associated with Great Willowherb)
208. Common Earwig
209. Nephrotoma flavescens (cranefly)
210. Steatoda nobilis (spider)

Given the various milestones - the country no longer being in full lockdown, over 100 days passes and over 200 species seen, I shall continue into July noting the new gardn species seen, but no longer note the day number or post for days when nothing new is added from here onwards.

NORTH-EAST NORFOLK: The best of Bacton Woods

Late June 2020

In the third of our family woodland walks, we decided to go to Bacton Woods, one of my old haunts. Having crossed over one of the main paths we crossed onto a ride with a mixture of coniferous and deciduous trees with some nice dappled sunlight. There were some nice areas of bramble, and a Silver-washed Fritillary flew across the path (you didn't get them here when I was growing up). Further along we saw the first of many White Admirals, probably my favourite butterfly although I've not seen Marsh Fritillary yet.

Rose was enjoying herself, with some running backwards and forwards, bark rubbings and splashing. She even handled both losing a welly in some thick mud and a nettle sting with admirable stoicism. I found some nice insects too, including the micro moth Tinea fulvella, the hoverfly Volucella inflata, the spider Diaea dorsata and the longhorn beetle Stictoleptura rubra.

On the way back to the car I noticed some interesting galls on Red Oak, which I think are caused by Taphrina caerulescens. We had lunch in the car, where a Wasp Beetle briefly landed, and whilst eating my food I was watching insects on the bramble nearby. I decided that it looked like an interesting bramble so I took a series of photos, from which Alex Prendergast (the BSBI Rubus referee for this area) was able to identify it as Rubus adamsii, a scarce species in East Anglia but one known from Bacton Woods.

NORWICH: Garden lockdown list 200 species breakdown

So, 97 days on from the start of my lockdown list I have passed the 200 species mark. How impressive that sounds will largely depend on your own listing experience - if you don't have a garden list then 200 sounds quite a lot, but if you have a big rural garden you might trap that amount of species in a night! I should point out that this hasn't been a full-on bioblitz, and many of the species have been seen simply by wandering around the garden, often with my daughter.

If you want to look back at the species I've recorded then you can go to the 'labels' section of the blog (on the right hand side and scroll down) and click on the 'lockdown list' label.

Anyway, I have produced a breakdown of the first 200 species by category and percentage below.

Also of interest, I check how many of the species were new to the garden, and it was 62/200 (31%), which is quite pleasing. I also looked at how many were new to me, and that was 25 (12.5%), which is also quite a good ratio.

NORWICH: Garden lockdown list day 97 - some more moths

DAY 97 - 26th June 2020

Another go with the moth trap, and numbers had increased a bit, with 15 species of moths. Also in the trap was a Spongefly, a small lacewing-relative that feeds on freshwater sponges, and a Lesser Water-boatman sp. I'm not sure if the water boatman can be identified (it a female, which are harder to key), so it's not included on the list. Ten of the moths were new for the lockdown list, which took me past the 200 mark - I'll post a breakdown of the 200 separately.

 Lesser Water-boatman sp
 Summer Chafer

Sisyra nigra, a Spongefly

Sycamore moth
Buff Arches
Cinnabar moth
Riband Wave
Ancylis achatana
Little Grey
Common Pug
Groundling sp?
Large Fruit-tree Tortrix
Elephant Hawk-moth
Treble Brown-spot
Bee Moth

192. Summer Chafer
193. Sisyra nigra (a spongefly)
194. Sycamore (moth)
195. Buff Ermine
196. Cinnabar Moth
197. Riband Wave
198. Ancylis achatana
199. Little Grey moth
200. Common Pug
201. Large Fruit-tree Tortrix
202. Elephant Hawk-moth
203. Treble Brown-spot
204. Bee Moth