The Whitlingham Bird Report for 2016 is now available to download here.

The previous reports are also availble: 2015 here,
2014 report here and the 2013 report here. Thanks to everyone who has contributed sightings, information and photos to these reports.

You may also be interested in Chris Durdin's Thorpe Marsh Wildlife Report for 2016, which is available

NORWICH: Unusual sightings

9th October 2017

Norwich is a pretty good city for wildlife, and as such I often see new or interesting species whilst walking to and from work, or whilst in the city centre. On Monday morning I thought I had filled my quota of unexpected sightings for the day when a Muntjac Deer ran across Lakenham Way in front of me, but as it was there was something else to see.

Late afternoon I received an email from Gary, complete with a photo of an L-album Wainscot moth. This was a bit of a surprise, as there have been very few records from Norfolk. The species now has a breeding population in Suffolk, but the two pre-2017 Norfolk records were thought to be immigrants from the continent. The larval foodplant is Marram grass, which is in short supply in Norwich. 

Looking more carefully at the photo I thought that it didn't look like the decor in Gary's house, which was confirmed when he told me that the moth was in the womens toilets at his workplace in the city centre. This begged an obvious question, however there turned out to be a mundane explanation - Alysia had found the moth, then been sent back into the toilets to get a photo, then (after a gap so as not to make colleagues think she was ill!) finally to catch the moth. Gary very kindly brought it round on his way home so that I could have a look. This turned out to be the 6th Watsonian Norfolk record (7th administrative), and interestingly another one was found in Norwich the day after.

WHITLINGHAM: October wildfowl count and fungi

8th October 2017

Sunday was WeBS day, so I was off to Whitlingham for some bird counting. That proved harder than it could have been at the Little Broad, with the vegetation having grown up to the extent that the corner near the path to the large car park is the only reasonable viewpoint at the moment. A Water Rail squealed unseen from the reeds as I scanned the far end.

Moving on to the Great Broad there wasn't much of note, a begging juvenile Great-crested Grebe, the Pintail x Mallard hybrid and 2 Little Grebes were the pick of the bunch. Of the rest the Greylag Goose numbers are well up on the previous year but we are yet to see Coot numbers build up.

Mute Swan 24 (2016: 36)
Greylag Goose 96 (2016: 15)
Mallard 47 (2016: 54)
Coot 58 (2016: 163)

Over at Thorpe again the vegetation hampered visibility - small numbers of Tufted Ducks, Gadwall and Teal were seen but the Shoveler that have been reported recently weren't visible.

Sunday was also UK Fungus Day, so it was fitting that I saw a couple of interesting species. The first was Blushing Wood Mushroom, which was growing on some woodchips. Much rarer was Allopsalliota geesterani. This interesting fungus is a shaggy, robust species that bruises bright yellow to start with before turning red. It was seen at Whitlingham in 2009 and that was only the second UK location following a site in Yorkshire. It had not been seen again at Whitlingham since, so this was a pleasing rediscovery, particularly as I had been frustrated knowing something so rare was around somewhere!

I also saw three new agromyzid leaf mines, including one of the schemes October target species, Aulagromyza luteoscutellata, in Snowberry.

YARE VALLEY: Buckenham Carrs fungi

7th October 2017

On Saturday Ian & I made our way down the Yare Valley towards Hassingham, where we were accessing the private woodland at Buckenham Carrs. The owners are keen for naturalists to record the wildlife on their estate, and the NNNS have made it a research project for the next couple of years. There had been two visits so far, one of the research committee and one from the Norfolk moth survey, neither of which I could attend, but on this one we were looking at fungi.

We met up with a slightly depleted group in the car park (Tony and Neil were both busy elsewhere) and after a quick briefing as to where we could go, we set off across an area of grassland to a small arboretum. There were a few Mycena and Blackening Waxcaps in the grassland but numbers started to pick up in the woods. An early highlight came in the form of some Stubble Rosegills. These large white toadstools were new for some of the group, although I had seen them once before at Holt. I was puzzled by a strange noise coming from the vegetation nearby, and it only became apparent what was making it when a Reeve's Pheasant wandered by.

The next phase of our walk took us into some wet woodland and this area was productive, with Dark Honey Fungus, a small purple Cortinarius, Ochre Aldercap and Blue Roundhead. In a nearby bit of Alder carr we saw Lilac and Fiery Milkcaps, Jellybabies (now seemingly a regular find) and some Olive Oysterlings. We headed back to the cars for lunch, stopping on the way to look at some Mistletoe growing at eye level. The final find before lunch was some Apricot Clubs on the lawn.

The rain began to fall a bit harder, so we ate lunch in the cars. After a short break we then headed off to look at another area of woodland. The fungi here was different to the areas we had checked earlier in the day, with Common Puffballs, Upright Coral, and a nice patch of Aniseed Funnels. Peeling Oysterling was another good find here, before we left the woods and found some more grassland species, including Wood Pinkgill.

Before calling it a day we took in a third area of wet woodland. Yvonne managed to find two very small but interesting fungi growing on plant debris. Mycena pterigena is a small bonnet with red gill edges that grows on fern debris, whilst Marasmius limosus is a parachute found on reed. After a quick walk to the end of the path to look out over the broad, we returned to the cottage. We had a brief chat with our host, who talked up a Kingfisher that flew in and perched on a bridge nearby.

In total we managed over 80 species in a relatively small area, so another successful foray.

MID-NORFOLK: Bawdeswell Heath

30th September 2017

A recent post on the Norfolk Wildlife Trust blog talked about some 'hidden gem' sites in mid-Norfolk, one of which was Bawdeswell Heath. Recently there had been some warm and wet weather, great for fungi, so I decided to go and have a look round. Having found the small car park and double checked that I wasn't doing anything against the rather official list of rules, I crossed over a small bridge and headed into the woods.

I had judged the conditions correctly and there was a lot of fungi about, mostly associated with birch. I did notice some small brackets with gill-like veins underneath. I recognised them as Plicatura crispa, which I think is the second Norfolk record. Nearby was the fleecy cap of a Frosted Webcap, not as rare as the previous species but still only the second time I've seen one.

As I headed round the site I was beginning to think that succession had rendered the 'heath' part of the name obsolete. I had looked at some old records from Bawdeswell and Ghost Boletes had previously been seen there, so I made my way along the path checking for these pale fungi. I did find several different boletes, but no ghosts. 

A recent Agromyzidae newsletter had suggested some target species for the month ahead and one of them occurred on Honeysuckle, so in addition to looking out for fungi I also checked out the Honeysuckle. I didn't find the target mine, but did find both Chromatomyia aprinila and Chromatomyia lonicera, plus Honeysuckle whitefly.

 Chromatomyia aprinila
 Chromatomyia lonicera

Cutting back through the middle I found a small bit of heath, which I was pleased about. A bit of grassland in front held some Snowy Waxcaps and yellow club sp. Checking the heather I noticed a couple of shieldbugs, and they turned out to be Spiked Shieldbug, a second new shieldbug species for me in the past two weeks. All in all a prodcutive visit to a nice little site.

WHITLINGHAM: A selection of leaf mines

26th September 2017

During the afternoon I received a message from Ricky to tell me that he had found a Ring-necked Parakeet at Thorpe Marsh, and it had flown across to Whitlingham. After work I therefore headed down there and did a lap, in the hope that it would still be around. Sadly there was no sight or sound of it, with a Little Grebe and a Gadwall on the Great Broad the only birds of note.

On the way back I kept an eye out for leaf mines, and added two new ones, plus another aggregate of two species.

 Phytomyza pastinacea or spondylii in Hogweed
 Agromyza anthracina in Nettle
 Calycomyza artemisia in Mugwort


24th September 2017

With the winds seemingly not great for migrant birds, and plenty of fungus forays to come, I decided to focus on insects for a bit longer. I was aware of some interesting stuff being recorded at Roman Wood on the edge of Acle recently, including two species I was keen to see (Bishop's Mitre Shieldbug and Rhombic Leatherbug), so I arranged to meet Tim Hodge there to see what we could find.

Roman Wood has a couple of differing compartments, but the area we focused on were recently cut grassland bordered by 20 year old planted trees and bushes. There were plenty of Pestle Puffballs growing around the edges, and the warm sunshine ensured there were quite a few hoverflies around too.

One of the methods of surveying that Tim had been employing at Roman Wood was seiving of the grass piles. I was surprised by the sheer volume of creatures this produced, but many of them were very small. The tiny ladybird Rhyzobia litura was of interest. Nearby a bee bank had been established, and a metallic green Lasioglossum (or possibly Halictus) was inspecting the soil. With no sign of any shieldbugs in the piles we moved on to a bit of sweeping, and this came up trumps with my first Bishop's Mitre Shieldbug.

Whilst sitting on the grass a Common Darter landed on me several times, although I had to twist to photograph it. A couple of Agromyzid mines were noted, including a new one for me, Agromyza plantaginis, on Greater Plantain.

At the eastern edge of the site there is a ditch, and as we headed that way Tim pointed out a Willow Emerald. They really are quite widespread now, I've seen them at many sites this year. A rust fungus on Agrimony was a good find and a few other bits were noted, including some mines in Poplar and Alder. Seiving of one final grass pile turned up two Notiophilus palustris beetles, part of a genus of ground beetles that have large eyes and stalk Springtails.


23rd September 2017

On Friday a White Stork had been reported near Long Stratton, and had apparently gone to roost on a chimney nearby. It was unringed, and had at one point been following a tractor, which struck me as rather wild sounding behaviour. I decided that given this, regardless of its origins (and let's face it, it is almost impossible to prove the origin either way of an unringed bird) I would enjoy seeing it. That is, lest we forget, the reason for endulging in a hobby.

There had been no news regarding the stork on Saturday morning, so I went to have a look for it. A slow drive around a couple of country lanes later and I noticed a field being ploughed, with loads of gulls in attendance. I pulled over and scanned through them without success, but a bit further along I found the White Stork in a grassy field adjoining the ploughed one. Staying in the car so as not to spook it I got good views as it walked about and fed in the grass. The only other people about were a family, I think probably the same ones mentioned in the EDP article. Incidentally I know there are a few slightly questionable details in the article, but it is great that this bird has been discussed at the local school, so well done to the teacher there. Later in the day David and Linda also saw the stork, and David has some better photos of it on his blog here:

On the way back I was passing a site for Sandy Stiltball, so I stopped nearby and had a look. I only found four fruiting bodies (the site was rather overgrown), most of which were rather old specimens. A check of some Common Mallow nearby revealed one of the specialist weevils that feeds on it, Aspidapion aeneum, so good to end the day with a new species.

NORWICH: Coral fungus and an Earthstar

22nd September 2017

After work on Friday I was walking down Lakenham Way when I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. Instinct said that it looked like a coral fungus, but there was a large patch so I had second thoughts until I got over to it and found that it was indeed around ten clumps of a Ramaria coral. There are quite a few different species so I need to examine a bit, but Tony Leech agrees with me that the most likely species is Ramaria stricta.

This would have been good enough, but whilst looking at the coral I also noticed at least six Collared Earthstars, including a nice fresh one. 

To add to the fungi, I also found a Rosemary Beetle in the in-laws garden before heading home.

NORTH NORFOLK: Wells warbler & fungi

17th September 2017

I didn't have any plans for Sunday, so when an Arctic Warbler was found at Wells Woods I decided to head over and have a look. It was raining on the way up, but by the time I got there the sun was out, creating a marked difference between the waterproof wearing birders and the beach going tourists. After a brisk walk to the area of birches that the Arctic Warbler was frequenting I got brief views before it flew further back into the trees. Rather than go round I decided to stay and wait for it to come back, and was rewarded with good 'scope views as it worked its way up through the trees. It was a bit too mobile for my digiscoping so I didn't bother trying, but others were clearly getting some good photos.

After a while (and conscious of the fact I'd only paid for two hours of parking) I wandered back. At the edge of the birches I stopped to look at a Brown Birch Bolete, and closer to the dell I found several more. These latter ones had darker caps, but turned out to be the same species. A Small Copper landed briefly on the path, and two Bitter Waxcaps were growing in the Dell amongst lots of Eyebright. I also noticed some sawfly caterpillars feeding on Birch leaves on my way back. A pleasant trip for my first coastal birding of autumn, and belated my first new bird of the year.

BROADLAND: How Hill fungi

16th September 2017

Todays fungus study group foray was at How Hill, and as I headed there the steady rain and copious amounts of standing water made me wonder if I had made the right decision to attend. The thought that my other option for the day had been a freshwater snails workshop at Carlton Marshes (further away and less shelter) cheered me up a bit. As expected the weather and the fact that it was the second foray of the month meant a slightly reduced group, although numbers were built up by four members of the How Hill staff.

We headed off into the woods and began to accrue species straight away. Crepidotus sp are common on forays, but one taken by Tony turned out to be Crepidotus versutus which was a new one for me. Purple-edge Bonnet (Mycena purpurescens) was another good one, amongst the 20 or so species we saw before the heavy rain drove us back to the house. Most places we visit have very little shelter, so we were lucky to have a lounge with hot drinks and cake!

View from the not-quite-aptly named sun room

Once the rain had eased a bit we headed back out. Picking up where we left off we were shown some Spectacular Rustgills that fruit each year, along with Stump Puffballs, Crested Coral and Rutstroemia echinophila for the second foray in a row. A good range of Mycenas were being found, about 14 or 15 different species providing Yvonne with lots of work back at home. I found some cup fungi growing on the petiole of an Oak leaf to go with the related cups on bark and Chestnut casings.

We stopped in the secret garden for lunch at the summerhouse, before exploring the lawns nearby. Lizzy, who had been quite prolifically finding new species for the day list seemed disappointed when a clump of white spheres turned out to be Grass Snake eggs rather than a fungus - several of us rushed back to have a look. Sadly rotten, but the first time I've seen them. Fungi kept being found, with a rust on Potentilla, Larch Bolete, Birch Knight and Deer Shield. The sun actually came out for a spell, and insects were suddenly visible, including Willow Emeralds and a Rhododendron Leafhopper.

Checking the area alongside a path we saw Papillate Pinkgill (confirmed by Alex)  and some Moor Clubs. There was a distinct lack of moorland, which puzzled us, but Tony confirmed later that they were indeed this species. We finally left the secret garden and crossed the woods, where I found three Lion Shields, completing the set of the three yellow shield species for me.

Out on a large lawn we were hopeful for some Waxcaps and other associated species, but unfortunately we were either too early or it wasn't as good as it looked. Pink Domecap was a decent find, but some part-mown Yellow Clubs were the only CHEG species. Just off the grass some Jellybabies were found under the wooded edge.

Before leaving we had a look around the car park and the lawn in front of the house. A few more species were added, including Meadow Coral, although the pick was probably some small ascomycetes that Yvonne found growing on a Dryopteris fern. They turned out to be Psilachnum chrysostigmum, the second Norfolk record. An obliging Sericomyia silentis hoverfly was also nice to see. Altogether we managed over 110 species, the most I remember on a foray for quite some time, so I'm glad I wasn't put off by a bit of rain!