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: A few January fungi

3rd week of January 2021

A blank week in terms of new birds for the year, but I did keep up my record of seeing a new species of something each week thanks to a tip from Stewart Wright. Stewart had posted on a Facebook group about the lichnenicolous fungus Athalia arachnoidea, and on my way past some trees on the next road over from my house I noticed some pale rings on the lichen-covered bark. At a distance you might assume that it was just dying off, but a closer inspection showed that it was a covering of white silky strands that are indicative of that species.


A few other fungi were also seen in the week, a rather non-descript orangey-brown one that I've not pinned down yet and Wood Blewit in the garden, and Bartheletia paradoxa on some dead Ginkgo leaves in Waterloo Park.

NORWICH: January week 2 - a new birch catkin gall

2nd week of January 2021

A quiet week. Cutting through Wensum Park a couple of times finally paid off when I saw the 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull again. It doesn't seem to be there the whole time, but does tend to fly in when the gull flock are attracted by people putting down food, as was the case here. Otherwise the only new birds for the year list were Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Coal Tit, the latter a welcome site in the garden. 

As with the first week I did eak out a new species, this time by checking some old birch catkins. A post online had highlighted that there were three gall midges in the genus Semudobia that can cause galls on them. Having taken a few home I failed to find either of the species that cause swellings in the seeds, but did find galls of Semudobia skuhravae, which swells the bases of the seeds and means they stick to the central bit of the catkin. There are no Norfolk records on NBN, but Rex Hancy lists it for both VC27 and VC28 in his NNNS Occasional Publication on the plant galls of Norfolk, so there must be Norfolk records of it on a database somewhere! I hope there will still be some old catkins left next time I get to go for a good walk at Whitlingham so I can check for them there.

NORWICH: A showy Kingfisher and a new lichen

1st week of January 2021

As we entered lockdown number 3, the opportunities for anything that resembled recreation were cut (other than fishing, which a government minister, who presumably has never been fishing or seen a fisherman decided could count as exercise). Entried for the forseeable future therefore all relate to ad hoc sightings around Norwich.

Five more birds were added to those seen on January 1st, all on my way to or from the city - Jackdaw, Redwing, House Sparrow, Stock Dove (briefly singing from Train Wood) and Wren. I also got some nice views of a Kingfisher perched up along the river near Fye Bridge. I even managed to see a new species, although I couldn't identify it myself so ended up sending the pictures to Peter Lambley, who confirmed my lichen was Diploschistes scruposus.

WHITLINGHAM: New Year's wigeon

1st January 2021

The start of the year began as the last few have, looking in the back garden and down the road for birds to add to the year list. The species seen were similar to last year - basically it's always 10-15 of the same species, in a slightly different order! This time first to be conclusively identified was Carrion Crow, followed by Blackbird, Starling, Woodpigeon and Common Gull.

Normally we would head to Whitlingham then on to my in-laws for a meal - obviously the latter was out this year, and we decided to wait and go to Whitlingham in the afternoon when we hoped it would be less busy. This did seem to work, probably also aided by the overcast conditions, and we had a muddy walk along the south shore of the Great Broad and back. Whilst the duck numbers were still low there was a bit of a surprise in the form of a small flock of Wigeon on the Great Broad, at one point 11 visible but on our way back only nine - presumably the other two were tucked in near the island. Four Goldeneye, a flypast Kingfisher and the resident Barnacle Goose were of note. There was also a final flourish as the drake Mandarin that often roosts here during the winter was visible near the ruined hall.


January 2021

I am pleased to say that the Whitlingham & Thorpe Bird Report for 2020 is now complete and you can download it via the link here. Thanks to everyone who has reported sightings from the area over the past year - this has been even more important than usual as I was unable to visit during lockdown and made fewer visits than normal throughout the rest of the year. In particular I am grateful to Gary White, Justin Lansdell and Stuart White who sent through lots of records and also between them managed to photograph many of the species present. Gary has also put together a Youtube video of clips of many of the species seen, which can be viewed here:


You can also still view or download all of the previous Whitlingham & Thorpe bird reports using the Whitlingham Bird List & Report page at the top of the blog and a reminder that if birds aren't your thing then there are various species guides covering animals, insects, plants and fungi on the Whitlingham Species Guide page.