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: A new rust, early House Martin and Kittiwake (eventually)

Early April 2021

A patch visit early in the month started well, with a mixed flock of hirundines containing House Martins, a week earlier than my previous earliest record here. At least two Mute Swans were on nests, and two Wigeon were on the Great Broad along with Mandarin, Mallard, Gadwall, Teal, Tufted Duck and Pochard. There was a large flock of 1st-winter Black-headed Gulls near the end of the broad, but I couldn't pick out anything else amongst them. Heading off into the wooded edge a Stock Dove was singing, and after checking a couple of patches of Moschatel I found some with Puccinia albescens, the second of the two rust fungi that specialise on it (having found the first one in Whitlingham Woods a few years ago).


I then headed round to Thorpe Marshes for my first visit of the year. The water levels were very high and the river had started to overflow onto the path, so I decided to do a quick lap. The pair of Stonechats that had overwintered were still present out on the marsh, and there was success on St Andrews Broad where a winter-plumaged adult Little Gull was with the Black-headed Gulls. At that point I found out that Justin had found two Kittiwakes on the Great Broad! He assured me that they looked very settled, so applying Sod's law it wasn't any great suprise that they had flown off 20 minutes later.

There was however a reprise, with an adult Kittiwake being found at Whitlingham a few days later. Rose and I took a walk along the southern shore of the Great Broad and eventually saw it at the east end. This was only my second live bird here (having also found a recently dead 1st year bird as well as an adult).

NORWICH: Early April at Mousehold Heath

Early April 2021

A family walk at Mousehold Heath was notable for the large number of Green Tiger Beetles seen - at least 20, probably quite a few more than that. They were very active, often first seen flying past and landing on a sandy bank. I kept an eye out for bees in the hope of finding my first Ashy Mining Bee, but only found a handful of species, including Orange-tailed Mining Bee. We also saw a couple of False Puffballs (Entiridium lycoperdon), slime moulds that form whitish half-spheres on tree trunks. Judging from social media it is having a good year. On our way back Cathy noticed a Treecreeper on a tree trunk close to the path, which showed very well.

NORWICH: Late March in the city

Last half of March 2021

The third week of March was rather quiet sightings wise, with a few flyover birds on my daily walk in to work including Grey Heron and a couple of Oystercatchers, whilst I heard my first Chiffchaff of the year singing along Lakenham Way on 23rd March. I saw a new beetle, by virtue of it landing on my desk, Two-spotted Carpet Beetle (Attagenus pellio). There was also an avian highlight with three Red Kites flying over Bethel Street seen at close quarters. Having seen the first one I then got closer and saw two fly over heading in the same direction. I assumed at the time that the first one had looped round behind me, but other observers on the other side of Chapelfield Gardens confirmed there were three individuals.

WHITLINGHAM: March WeBS cout & a new smut fungus for Norfolk

13th March 2021

The March WeBS count was rather uneventful, an exodus of ducks left around 100 Tufted Ducks, 4 Gadwall and 2 Pochard (numbers picked up later in the month, and a few Shovelers were seen the other side of the river at Thorpe on the same weekend). I delighted in prolonged views of a Jay in the wooded area near the Little Broad, and a hybrid Canada x Greylag Goose was on the Great Broad.

Having not visited the woods so far this year I had a quick walk in the nearest bit, hearing Treecreeper, Marsh Tit and Bullfinch for the first time this year. Spurge Laurel was in flower near the car park watchpoint. The most interesting point of the visit was a gall on Lesser Celandine. It didn't look like a rust so I examined it further, and as I suspected it turned out to be caused by a smut fungus, Urocystis ficariae. What I didn't realise at the time was that this is acutally quite a scarce species, and it appears to be new to Norfolk which is nice.