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: Biscuit Beetle and Eastern Rocket

Late April 2021

Noticing a tiny beetle dead on the windowsill at work, I stuck it under the microscope and identified it as a Biscuit Beetle. I was tempted to joke that it died of hunger because I would never leave any biscuits lying around, but its the larvae that are the voracious eaters so that doesn't really work.

On my way into work recently I had noticed some plants with yellow flowers at various points on my journey. They looked like wall-rocket species, but I hadn't stopped to examine them and find out exactly what they were. It wasn't until a week later when Louis and Chris had posted about seenig Eastern Rocket in Norwich that I suspected that was what these were - a thought confirmed when Chris gave me directions to some plants on Oak street, on my walk into work. The other ones I'd seen near New Mills were also this species, an alien that I'd not recorded before.

BROADLAND: Few fungi but a rare case-bearing moth

17th April 2021

After more than a year's absence, Fungus Study Group events recommenced with a trip to a private Broadland location, with numbers restricted to groups of six. It was a beautiful sunny day in an unspoilt area, and although the dry conditions restricted us to a small number of mostly tiny plant fungi it was really nice to be out with the group again. We watched some hares chasing in a nearby field, a couple of Cranes flew over and some Bearded Tits flew down a dyke. 

 Of the fungi, the new species were all aforementioned small obscure ones, including Rush Disco (Lachnum apalum), Ascodichaena rugosum (a black fungus on Oak branches) and Ophiognomonia ai-viridis (tiny black spikes along the petiole of dead Alder leaves).

 We stopped for lunch near a mass of flowering Gorse, which contained well over 20 Gorse Shieldbugs, loads of Gorse Weevils and my first Large Red Damselfly of the year. A Water Measurer was of note on a pool, whilst species of the day was an occupied case of the rare micro moth  Water Dock Case-bearer (Coleophora hydrolapathella)

NORWICH: City centre seal

13th April 2021

Over the past year there had been lots of sightings of a Grey Seal in the river in Norwich, and o the few occasions I had been able to go and look for it I had not seen it. A week or so earlier there had been another 'seal in the river' article in the EDP, but looking at the recent picture rather than the older ones also lumped in with it, it  was clear that this was actually a Common (Harbour) Seal, which come up the river into Norwich less frequently than Grey Seals. I kept an eye on Twitter and after work one day found that it had been seen nearby. After a bit of searching I found it near the Ribs of Beef pub. It was elusive, disappearing for 10 minutes at a time, but still a nice addition to my Norwich mammal list! Nearby a pair of Egyptian Geese had a gosling o the slipway.

WHITLINGHAM: April WeBS and stunning Kittiwake views

11th April 2021

April's wildfowl count took place with a mixture of sunny spells and hail showers. A Reed Warbler heard singing from one of the usual territories had first been heard by other birders a few days earlier, but still knocked about a week off my previous earliest patch date for this species. Elsewhere around the broad Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Willow Warblers were singing, but no Sedge Warblers were heard. In terms of breeding wildfowl four Mute Swan nests were noted (one on the Little Broad and three along the north shore of the Great Broad), but no goslings or geese on nests were seen. The Mandarin was again present, along with 78 Tufted Ducks, 2 Pochard and 43 Mallard.

The standout moment of the visit, and arguably of the last couple of years worth of visits, was 10 minutes in the close company of an adult Kittiwake. Having called in earlier in the week and seen it distantly with a flock of Black-headed Gulls, I reached this area and begun to scan out into the broad. I was disturbed by a splash, only to look up and see the Kittiwake, which had dived into the water just offshore. I was standing in a gap between the broadside trees, and it then proceded to fly back and forth along the broad edge, only a few feet above head height and at times easily within 10 feet of me. It wasn't flying particularly fast either, soaring and banking in front of me as I stood on my own. Absolutely magical. After a while it stopped flying around and floated on the broad, still quite close by. If this gets beaten as my favourite avian moment of the year then I will have seen something really special!

CENTRAL NORFOLK: Buxton Heath invertebrate selection

Mid-April 2021

Buxton Heath is probably our closest NWT reserve bar Thorpe Marshes, and has the added attraction for family walks of having horses, a favourite of my daughter. This area holds a wide range of insects, such that during spring and summer it would almost be a suprise not to see something new. During our couple of hours we saw six Buzzards kettling above the woods, a couple of Crossbills flying over, a Stonechat and a Meadow Pipit. I saw four new species, two of which are probably things that I have seen but not recorded in the past - Heather Beetle and Juniper Haircap moss. The other two were the larval stage of the Ling Case-bearer moth (Coleophora pyrrhulipennella) and a spider, Zora spinimana.

EAST NORFOLK: Birding curtailed by snow

Early April 2021

As restrictions started to be loosened I finally left Norwich to visit family and friends in North Walsham. Unfortunately the weather forecast for my trip to see Adam was rather unconducive to birding. We had intended spend some time near the local coastline, but the squally winds meant this plan was abandoned fairly early on, with a couple of Wheatears the only migrants seen. Heading inland a sunny spell meant a nice ten minutes of woodland bird song (Chiffchaffs, Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Marsh Tit), but this was followed by a snowstorm, at which point we gave up and headed for home.