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: Snakefly and an unusual lichen

First half of May 2021

Various sightings on my walks to and from the city, culminated with the finding of my second ever Snakefly. Identification relies on the pattern of veins in the fore and hind wings - fortunately I managed to get a photo of the hindwing of this one to confirm that it was Xanthostigma xanthostigma.


Other sightings included Regal Piercer, a micro moth associated with Sycamore, the beetle Bruchus rufimanus and some Tawny Mining Bees. The first Swifts returned to our housing estate on 9th May, and on the same day I found an out of place Reed Warbler singing from scrub along a pathway at Waterloo Park, well away from any suitable habitat.

Finally, having seen it mentioned online I searched for and found Phylloblastia inexpectata. This is a foliicolous lichen (i.e. one that grows on leaves) and is almost certainly hugely overlooked, with this being the first VC27 (east Norfolk) record.

NORTH OF NORWICH: Bog Beacons and heather invertebrates

2nd May 2021

After leaving Earlham Marshes I headed to a site north of Norwich that is subject to a long-term NNNS Research Project. The site is currently being surveyed by a team of expert botanists, and a week or so ago they had come across a fungus that I had wanted to see for ages, Bog Beacon (Mitrula paludosa). This small but spectacular species is commoner in the north (where there are more bogs, funnily enough) but there were only a couple of previous Norfolk records. Armed with good directions from Ian I set off and found the area without much trouble, which was handy because the area has some rather deep boggy areas of mud.

Whilst on site I decided to sweep a bit of heather in the hope that I could find either of my long-term heathland target species, Heather Ladybird or Heather Shieldbug. I didn't see either, and actually didn't find too much. There were a few spiders, including Agalenatea redii, plus Small Heather Weevil and a Heath Rustic caterpillar.

NORWICH: Blue-headed Wagtail at Earlham Marshes

2nd May 2021

The thriving community of birders in west Norwich, including some excellent UEA birders, had produced a string of great bird sightings from Earlham and Bowthorpe Marshes this spring. I was finally tempted to go and have a look by a Blue-headed Wagtail on Earlham Marsh, which given that I've never even seen our usual subspecies around the city was a very good find. Walking out across the marsh from the dragonfly pond the water levels looked good, and scanning across I noticed a Little Ringed Plover towards the back of the marsh. A couple were just leaving and told me the area that the wagtail had been frequenting, and after a couple of scans I found it actively feeding in an area near the bund. It gave great binocular views, although was just a bit too far for my bridge camera. Nearby my first Sedge Warbler of the year popped up and sang. I even managed to avoid any problems with the local horse, that had been giving some other birders a bit of agro before being moved off the site.

SOUTH NORFOLK: Ashwellthorpe anemone fungi

Late April 2021

Near the end of the month we went for our near-annual trip to Ashwellthorpe Lower Wood to see the Bluebells. Another tradition is for me to check all around the Wood Anemone plants in the hope of finding the scarce Wood Anemone Cup fungus that is sometimes found with it. Once again I drew a blank, but this increased scrutiny of Wood Anemone plants led to several new fungal finds, with the rust fungus Tranzschelia anemones and the smut fungus Urocystis anemones. I also noted the weevil Barynotus moerens, something I think I've seen here before but not been able to identify. There was also a couple of interesting sawflies, but they were from the tricky genus Dolerus, so without a specimen they could only be narrowed down to a species pair.