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: Last visit of the year

30th December 2012

A last visit to Whitlingham of the year, hoping for the one new species that would break my year record. It was rather busy, at times feeling like I was in a rather large queue snaking around the broad. the duck highlights were 19 Wigeon on the Great Broad, a decent count here. A few Siskins flew over, and that was that really. I went along the Lime tree avenue to the farmland at the top to look for Yellowhammer (my top blocker here now according to BUBO) or Red-legged Partridge. I saw neither, but did get good views of a Green Woodpecker on the meadows. So there we go, 110 species, ten of which were site ticks, represents a very good year. I am now putting the finishing touches to my inaugural Whitlingham Bird Report( in lieu of a big summary post), so look forward to that early in the new year.

Merry Christmas y'all

24th December 2012

Merry Christmas to everyone who reads this blog!

As the year nears its end I would also like to thank everyone who has contributed to my enjoyment this year, be it giving or offering lifts, reporting birds, commenting on my posts, sending me photos or just saying hello when I've been out. It is all very much appreciated.

WHITLINGHAM: Trowse Woods fungus foray

22nd December 2012

It rained pretty much all day, but luckily I wasn't off to Whitlingham proper. Today was the last foray of the year for the Norfolk Fungus Study Group, and handily it was at Trowse Woods. Despite it being mid-winter, there hadn't been a frost recently so we were hopeful of a decent haul. With a combination of thorough searching, local knowledge and much greater identification skills than mine we managed well over 50 species. The pick of the day was probably Ganoderma pfeifferi (sometimes called the Beeswax Bracket because its pores exude a waxy substance) at its only known Norfolk site. Alex also noticed a rare form of Male Fern with crested frond ends. Afterwards we called into the White Horse in Trowse for a drink.

 'Crested' Male Fern
Beeswax Bracket (notice the yellow wax coming from the pores)

THORPE BROAD: Slavonian Grebe

15th December 2012

I hadn't been home that long after returning from Whitlingham when I looked at BirdForum and noticed that Steve had found a Slavonian Grebe at Thorpe. Slavonian Grebe was the only one of the five commoner grebe species that I hadn't seen locally, so I set off hoping that it was still around. Luckily it was, and showed nicely, swimming along the southern shore of Thorpe Broad. This was my 110th patch bird of the year, equalling my best tally from 2010. Will I manage a record-beating 111th bird in the final two weeks of the year? Stay tuned...

WHITLINGHAM: Less ducks, more elves

15th December 2012

Was I the only person today who had to pause their wildfowl count to wait for Santa to go past on a solar boat? Probably.

Starting near the Little Broad I saw a couple of Water Rails, which ran off into the bramble scrub. There wasn't much around at the west end of the broad, so I continued to the conservation area. The Shoveler and Wigeon had departed, and there had been a slight reduction in Gadwall, Pochard and Tufted Ducks. Disappointingly there was no sign of the Ring-necked Duck so I couldn't improve on my record shots from last week, but at least several photographers did manage to get some good shots in the week. I scanned across to Thorpe, where there were lots of ducks, but not all visible from my vantage point. Back along the south shore of the Great Broad and I was surprised to see that the Common Scoter was still there, a week on from its arrival last Sunday.

WHITLINGHAM: Ring-necked Duck & Common Scoter

9th December 2012

With the weather getting cold over the past week I headed to Whitlingham to look for newly arrived wildfowl. There had been an increase in the numbers of Tufted Ducks, Pochard and Gadwall, and four Shovelers were new. Near the island loads of Teal were busily swimming around, as were three Wigeon. Whilst trying to count the Tufted Ducks I was drawn to a female duck with a white area at the bill base and a clear white streak across the bill. A pale eye-ring was just visible, and the paler area around the ear-coverts gave it a slight capped appearance. I recognised it as a female Ring-necked Duck, presumably the returning Broadland bird that was first seen at Whitlingham in 2008. It was swimming around near the cormorant posts just east of the island. These photos don't really due it justice, mostly because they're rubbish.

I power-walked around to the north shore of the broad to try and get a closer look, but failed to do so. Looking south the light silhouetted many of the birds, and a large part of the flock was obscured from view by the smaller islands. Walking back around to the south shore I scanned again trying to find the Ring-necked Duck but this time I couldn't find it. I did however find a female-type Common Scoter, another self-found duck tick here.


With the year drawing to a close, I am currently compiling a bird report for the Whitlingham area for 2012. This will mainly be composed of my own sightings, but to make it as complete as possible I would welcome any interesting sightings that others have made. Anyone who sends in any sightings will of course be included in the acknowledgements at the end of the report

Of particular interest would be:

  • Scarce species
  • High counts
  • Particularly early or late records of migrants
  • Any wing-tagged/ringed/neck-collared birds
In addition, there are several relatively common or annual species, or species seen flying towards Whitlingham, that I haven't seen or heard of this year, notably:
  • Bewick's Swan (now reported)
  • Osprey (now reported)
  • Red-legged Partridge
  • Woodcock
  • Jack Snipe
  • Whimbrel
  • Tawny Owl
Any reports can be emailed to me (address is on the right hand side of the blog), posted in the comments or sent to me via BirdForum. The completed report will be available to download for anyone who is interested early in January.

WHITLINGHAM: More ducks, more fungi

24th November 2012

With rain forecast later I headed down to Whitlingham in the morning. There was still a lot of fog around, so I wasn't confident of seeing much, but it cleared as the day went on. There are a few benefits of fog, namely that although you can't see very far, neither can the birds. As I walked along the little broad I looked into the alders across the other side of a ditch, and saw a Kingfisher looking back. It soon flew off, but I was very chuffed to get what may be my closest views of my favourite bird. Further along I found a couple of Lesser Redpolls, and was surprised to see a Black-headed Gull with an almost brown hood still.

Leaving the broad I went up into the woods to look for fungi, including a couple of specimens that Neil M had told me about. One of these, Red-banded Bracket (Fomitopsis pinicola) being particularly rare. Whilst wandering around I found a mixed flock of Tits and Goldcrests, which I checked through looking for Firecrests, without success.

Fomitopsis pinicola

Ascocoryne sarcoides

Back at the broad I went round to the conservation area, where there had been an increase in duck numbers since my last visit. Around 30 Teal were now milling around, whilst Tufted Duck and Gadwall were both more numerous. Three Little Grebes and a drake Pochard completed the winter wildfowl. A Marsh Tit called from some alders, and a Wren hopped around in a pile of cut trees. No new birds, but a very satisfying visit nonetheless.

NORTH NORFOLK: Surf Scoter & R-c Starling

17th November 2012

Whilst at home today I got a phone call from Gary mid-morning to tell me that a juvenile Surf Scoter had been found off the cliffs between Sheringham and Weybourne. Ducks are probably my favourite group of birds, and Surf Scoter was one of the three species on the Norfolk list that I hadn't seen (Canvasback and Blue-winged Teal are the others), so I decided to get the next train to Sheringham to go and have a look. After a long walk along the cliffs (failing to see a Richard's Pipit that was seen sporadically throughout the day) I reached the right place, where a couple of birders were watching the Surf Scoter with a small group of Common Scoter. The flock were actively feeding, but when seen in profile the head and beak of the Surf Scoter really stuck out. A little while later Neil and Gary arrived, and after watching the scoter for a bit longer we headed back.

On my way to the scoter I had been told that a Rose-coloured Starling had been found in Northrepps, so we headed that way. A birder at the village hall car park gave us directions to the garden that the bird was frequenting, and we found a small group of birders watching the juvenile Rose-coloured Starling in a small tree, where it showed well. Interestingly the bird had at least one dark adult covert, and the end of the beak had turned pink. We also clocked up a Cormorant and a Lapwing over the house, and saw a flock of Pink-footed Geese fly over near Southrepps on our way back to North Walsham to round off an excellent days birding.

Many thanks to Dave Appleton for finding the Surf Scoter, and to the owner of the garden that the Rose-coloured Starling was in.

NORWICH: Obligatory Waxwing photos

11th November 2012

A quick trip to Rupert Street was enough to catch up with a flock of nine Waxwings that have been frequenting the area off Unthank Road recently. Many thanks to Connor for letting me know they were showing well.

WHITLINGHAM: Goldeneye & Coral Tooth Fungus

10th November 2012

Despite the rain I headed down to Whitlingham, walking past the railway station to check for Waxwings on the way. As I walked near the Little Broad I heard a Lesser Redpoll call as it flew over. Part way along the Great Broad I was surprised to see a group of 8 or so birders (probably the sum total I'd seen in the past six months here). I eagerly looked to see what the attraction was, but it must have either been Gadwall or Tufted Duck, so I presumed they were on a guided walk and carried on. When I got to the island I checked the Cormorants in case any of the coastal Shag influx had made their way inland, without success.

I then detoured up into the woods to look for a particularly rare fungus. Readers of this blog with particularly good memories may remember in 2009 I posted a picture of the Bearded Tooth fungus (Hericium erinaceus)  in Trowse Woods, the first Norfolk record (see it here). There are two other members of this genus in the UK, H. cirrhata has only been found once before (also near Norwich) and  then in 2010, Coral Tooth fungus (Hericium corraloides) was found at Whitlingham Woods, another Norfolk first*. Why the area is so good for these species is unknown. Anyway, I heard that the Coral Tooth Fungus was fruiting again this year, so I went and had a look, and very nice it was too. It was growing 10-12 feet up, so this isn't a great picture, but check it out on google - it really does look like a bit of coral growing out of a tree.

I headed back down to the Broad, where I met the birders from earlier. I guess they must have really been grilling those Tufties. I carried on around the broad, clocking up flyover Redwings and Siskins. The bird screen was flooded, but scanning round I noticed a Goldeneye, which was a bit unusual. Further along the riverbank a couple of Goldcrests were in a hawthorn bush, and it sounded like a large flock of Siskin had flown into trees near the Little broad.

* There is an old record from about 1830, but I think that this hasn't been properly authenticated so I presumed the 2010 record would be considered the proper county first. This view was supported by the 2011 Norfolk Biodiversity Information Service newsletter, which states that the species has not been found in Norfolk before. However I have found a reference to a specimen being found in King's Lynn in 2006, so the Whitlingham record may be the 2nd for the county rather than the first.

EAST NORFOLK: Witton Woods fungus foray

3rd November 2012

When the Norfolk Fungus Study Group announced their programme, two forays stood out. The first was Mousehold Heath, just down the road, and the second was Bacton (aka Witton) Wood, my local woods from when I lived in North Walsham. Dad & I went along despite it being a bit late in the fungi season to see what we could turn up. In a couple of hours we recorded around 30 species, the most notable for me being Postia caesia (Conifer Bluing Bracket), which I found on the way back. There were lots of Amethyst Deceivers and quite a few Beech Sickeners along the eastern path, worth having a look at if you are that way.

Amethyst Deceiver
Beech Sickeners (poisonous!)
Fly Agaric (poisonous!)

THORPE MARSH: Checking for owls

2nd November 2012

Remembering that it was late October/early November that a Short-eared Owl appeared at Thorpe Marshes last year, I decided to go and check for one. I arrived at around 15:30 and having waded through a flooded area of the path, I settled down to wait until dusk. Whilst waiting for the light to fade I kept my eyes upwards, hoping to catch up with flyover Waxwing or a skein of Pink-feet. I did manage several unseen Siskin calling as they flew from Whitlingham, and a Sparrowhawk hunted over the marsh briefly. It began to get dark, and it became evident that no Short-eared Owls were coming out tonight. It's still worth a check if anyone fancies it, last year the bird was best seen between 16:00-16:40-ish.

NORTH NORFOLK: Cley White-front & White-rumped stuff

1st November 2011

At Cley we went and had a look at the wildlife art exhibition in the old visitors' centre, before heading out to the central hides. On the way we stopped to scan through a flock of Brent Geese, and I noticed a White-fronted Goose of unknown origin close by with the Greylags.

Further along a male Bearded Tit showed beautifully until I reached for my camera, at which point it flew a small distance into the reeds and pinged with laughter (maybe). Scanning Pat's Pool we saw one of the White-rumped Sandpipers, which was initially distant, but came closer after all of the small waders were put up by an unseen raptor. It later flew back after a similar disturbance. We also saw a Barn Owl hunting from the hide, and another one just east of Kelling on the way home.

BEER NEWS: Norwich Beer Festival 2012

30th October 2012

A reminder to everyone that this week is the Norwich Beer Festival! This year there aren't many bird-related beers (Silly Bustard is the only one I can remember from looking at the programme), but there is still a wide range to choose from. You can check out the full list before you go on the Norwich CAMRA website.

This year's logo 

Also with Halloween upon us, if you fancy a seasonal brew you have the standard choice of Hobgoblin, several Pumpkin-based ales (fine if you like the taste of Pumpkin - I don't) or try this special - Shepherd Neame's Spooky Ale.

EAST NORFOLK: Winterton Dunes

29th October 2012

Cathy & I went to Winterton in the afternoon for a walk around the south dunes, hoping to catch up with any migrant stragglers. We walked around in the drizzle barely seeing a bird, although we did find three Fox Moth caterpillars. I set up on the edge of the dunes for a bit of a sea-watch, seeing one Little Auk south and a Shag and Red-throated Diver on the sea, but after 15 minutes gave up as the rain started to come down harder.

NORTH NORFOLK: The Waxwings have arrived

28th October 2012

A third (and final!) visit to St Andrew's car park in the city once again failed to produce any Ring Ouzels, and the cathedral Black Redstart was also notable only by it's absence. In the afternoon we went for a drive along the North Norfolk coast, calling in at Burnham Overy. Here by the side of the car park were two Waxwings and a large flock of Starlings and Fieldfares. We watched the Waxwings for a while until a Sparrowhawk put up the thrushes. The Waxwings trilled to each other, then three more piped in from deep within the hawthorns, and all five flew off towards some nearby houses. We continued on to Titchwell for a drink, before heading back via Choseley and Docking.

NORWICH: Ouzel dip & cathedral Black Redstart

26th & 27th October 2012

This week has been rather frustrating for the most part. There were amazing influxes of birds on Monday and Tuesday at the coast, with the winds changing mid-week. Excited birders told of unforgettable scenes and best days in the field. Back in Norwich, a few more Redwings than normal flew over.

Fast forward to Friday, and it seemed that many of the birds that had arrived earlier in the week were beginning to filter inland. On my way to work hundreds of Redwings were flying over in small groups, whilst a couple of flocks of Fieldfares were also mixed in. I wondered to myself whether any Ring Ouzels or Black Redstarts would be found close by. At lunchtime I noticed that two Ring Ouzels had been found in the city centre, of all places, so I went for a look after work. Despite a large number of Blackbirds (15+) still feeding near St Andrew's car park, there was no sign of the Ouzels.

On Saturday I had planned to go to the North Norfolk coast, but the regular waves of rain and hail against the windows made me think this was a bad idea. Instead I waited for a brief gap in the rain and went for a walk around Norwich looking for migrants. A Kingfisher on a post near Bishop's Bridge was nice to see, but I didn't see anything else of note between here and St Andrew's, although I thought I heard a Black Redstart calling unseen from near the cathedral cloisters. Spending a bit more time near the car park it was evident that the Ring Ouzels had gone, so I went home via various berry bushes.

Later on I noticed that a Black Redstart had been seen this morning at the cathedral! Darn it. As I live close by I headed back to check out the area where I thought I had heard one earlier. As luck would have it, the Black Redstart flew in front of me, perching on a small wooden post, before flying to the ground to feed in the leaf litter. I watched it for around 20 minutes, sometimes down to a few feet, as it fed and flicked it's tail. On my home the Kingfisher had returned to the same post that I saw it on earlier. It looked up at me on the bridge then flew downriver. An excellent end to British summer time (put your clocks back tonight!).

WHITLINGHAM: Winter birds returning

21st October 2012

It actually felt like finding a decent bird was a possibility today, with some autumnal weather and the calls of Skylarks and Redwings passing overhead. On the Little Broad a female Wigeon was close in, having presumably only just woken up. I head three Water Rails making their weird squealing noise (two near the Little Broad and one on the north shore of the Great Broad). Five Cetti's Warblers were giving a mixture of song and sub-song. Numbers of Tufted Duck and Gadwall were similar to the previous week, but the number of wild-type Mallard was up, presumably migrants. A couple of Little Grebes were also seen for the first time since the spring. Whilst scanning from the bird screen, I found a Siskin in an Alder with the tit flock, and heard several others nearby. On the walk back a Green Woodpecker flew up off the meadows and into an oak tree.

SUFFOLK: Slav Grebe & hybrid duck

20th October 2012

We hopped over the border into Suffolk to Oulton Broad, where a Slavonian Grebe was showing very well. Despite its close proximity, a combination of overcast weather and my photographic skill managed to make the grebe look like it was swimming through tar, so enjoy these cracking photos.

Before leaving Oulton Broad I had a quick look around Nicholas Everitt Park for other birds to take awful pictures of. Amongst some Mallards of varying domesticity (as this wasn't underlined in red I'm presuming it is an actual word), I spotted this interesting looking duck. If memory serves, this is a Mallard x Red-crested Pochard, although I would welcome comments if you agree or disagree with this ID. I seem to remember one was seen at Cantley BF a while back. Incidentally the last time I was here (2009!) there was a different bird that resembled a female Red-crested Pochard, but was being muted as a Mallard x RCP, on the same pond.

Back in Norfolk we meandered through the broads on the way back to Norwich, the only birds of note being a small flock of Golden Plover that flew over near Acle.

WHITLINGHAM: Looking for geese

13th October 2012

This week has seen the arrival of a number of flocks of Pink-footed Geese, so today's target was to catch up with one of these flocks over Whitlingham. I was also keeping an ear out for Bearded Tits, as there seem to be large numbers at Strumpshaw, which may mean there is an irruption at some point in the autumn. This was rather over-optimistic, but if any Bearded Tits are reading this, just look at that lovely reedmace!

As I worked my way round a few Redwings were flying over, as well as some frustratingly unidentified finch sp. Near the path to the bird screen a Water Rail squealed, to the equal surprise of myself and a nearby Mute Swan. A lone Teal was in the conservation area along with 17 Gadwall and around 30 Tufted Ducks. With no other birds of note on the broad I headed into the woods, finding some aptly named Verdigris Agarics*.

* Verdigris, for those who haven't come across it, is the bluey-green colour that occurs when copper tarnishes.

NORWICH AREA: Mousehold Redwings

6th October 2012

With a bit of free time in the morning I decided to go up to Mousehold Heath and look for any migrating birds. In hindsight I should probably have gone to Whitlingham, where someone found a 1st-winter Caspian Gull, but Whitlingham on a sunny Saturday usually has more people than birds. Anyway, 10 Redwings flew over southwards, and that was it. There has also been no sign of the Egyptian Geese since I first saw them, maybe they have headed off downriver to raise their chicks somewhere quieter.

NORFOLK: New websites and additions to the Norfolk list

Several recent developments may be of interest to regular readers of this blog:

1) The Norfolk Records Committee have launched their own website. As well as information about the committee members and the species considered by them, it contains identification articles and a Work-in-progress file so that recorders can see the progress of their records. You can visit the website here:

2) The Cley Bird Club have also recently launched their website, which includes a list of the birds seen in the Cley Square, photographs and latest sightings.

Finally the BBRC have published their annual report of rare birds in Britain for 2011. There are few surprises, with the majority of the rare birds submitted from Norfolk during the past year officially accepted. There are however four additions to the Norfolk list to emerge from the report. Firstly the American Herring Gull seen at Blackborough End Tip in 2004 has finally been accepted. Secondly a male Spectacled Warbler found on Scolt Head in May 2011 was new to Norfolk and the 6th British record (there may well be more on the warbler in the next Norfolk Bird & Mammal Report, although the decision on the gull may have come too late for inclusion). The other two were anticipated: Sandhill Crane (photographed at Snettisham and ID'd after the bird had departed) and Western Sandpiper (the well-watched bird at Cley NWT).

[Edit] Obviously there were actually five additions to the Norfolk list, my mind had somehow blanked all memory of the Rufous-tailed Robin at Warham.

NORWICH AREA: Unseasonal Egyptian Geese brood

1st October 2012

On my way home from work I got a phone call from Cathy to say that she had seen the local pair of Egyptian Geese at Pull's Ferry, and they appeared to have at least two goslings with them! I had a walk along Riverside Road and looked across at the ferry, seeing four young Egyptian Geese. Egyptian Geese do have a reputation for attempting to breed in winter, but usually at the start of the year rather than in autumn. Steve on BirdForum informed me that he had seen seven goslings earlier in the day close by at Cow Tower, so hopefully the other three were close by but out of sight. I shall keep an eye out to see how they get on.

THORPE MARSH: Brief update

30th September 2012

Not many birds at Thorpe today, the resident Stock Doves being the only bird of note. Recent rain had raised the water level on the scrape, so not even a Lapwing was loafing. A couple of butterflies were flying; a Red Admiral and a nice fresh Comma. Downriver an Osprey lingers at Strumpshaw, fingers crossed it moves a bit closer...

NORTH NORFOLK: Muckleburgh, Cley & Burnham

23rd September 2012

With some easterly winds for the first time this autumn, we decided to have a look for some migrants. I decided on Muckleburgh Hill, partly because I like the area and partly because there had been no birds reported from it over the weekend. We did a lap of the wooded areas around the hill, also stopping to scan the hedges and open spaces of Weybourne Camp. We saw very little of interest, and the sole tit flock in the area (at nearby Weynor Gardens) didn't hold any Phylloscs.

We carried onto Cley for lunch, after which we had a look from the central hides. There was a Bar-tailed Godwit and a few Golden Plovers on Simmond's Scrape, and a Common Sandpiper and a sleeping Barnacle Goose (picked out amongst the Canadas by Cathy) on Pat's Pool. The hides were surprisingly empty, and a reason for this became apparent when Gary called to say that he had just been to see a Booted Warbler at Burnham Overy Dunes. We headed to Burnham, but as the weather was getting cooler with rain in the air I walked down to the saltmarsh on my own. The Booted Warbler was surprisingly active, regularly flying up and down a suaeda-lined channel, although once perched it was very tricky to locate. Booted Warblers haven't been easy to catch up with in Norfolk, so it was nice to get a look at this one, a good find for Carl and Tim.


23rd September 2012

We had a bit of a sea watch and some chips at Walcott on Saturday evening, in case there were any lingering Leach's Petrels. As it was the seabird passage had mostly passed, with Red-throated Diver and Guillemot the only birds on the sea. There were Gannets and terns passing, and a flock of Wigeon flew north. Amongst  the gulls was an unringed winter adult Med Gull, and the Turnstones were entertaining as always.

WHITLINGHAM: Autumn has started (ish)

22nd September 2012

With autumn seemingly arriving I went down to Whitlingham to look for some inland migrants. A cool wind seemed suitably autumnal, but the trees were still green, making it that little bit harder to locate passerines. Scanning down the river the female tenebrosus-type Pheasant was walking around - only the second time I've seen it here.

As usual for a Saturday there was lots of boating going on, and as a result not a lot of wildfowl. 18 Gadwall represents an increase from the summer, and they were mostly asleep or loafing in the conservation area. Whilst scanning from the bird screen nine Redwing flew over (my first of this winter period), and I actually saw two Cetti's Warblers, with a third calling in the distance. I searched the Long-tailed Tit flocks for Yellow-browed Warblers, finding only a Chiffchaff. On my walk back I found a second Chiffchaff, this one singing on Trowse Meadows.

NORWICH AREA: A few misc sightings

w/e 21st September 2012

A few miscellaneous observations from this week as summer continues to transition into autumn. Early in the week a Chiffchaff was singing in a North Norwich park, whilst at least one House Martin is still around in the same area. Nearby the Common Gulls have began to return, and a flock of Cormorants flew over Magdalen Street mid-week. Finally a young Grey Heron has been frequenting the Wensum near Jarrold bridge, flying off whenever anyone walks past.

NORTH NORFOLK: Titchwell Pec Sand

16th September 2012

A pleasant walk around Titchwell produced a Curlew Sandpiper and eventually views of a Pectoral Sandpiper (part of a decent influx going on at the moment). Two Slavonian Grebes had been seen offshore earlier in the day, but the tide had gone out and there was no sign of them when I looked. At least eight Great-crested Grebes were fairly close in, and several Gannets passed through.

Pectoral Sandpiper. A naff picture as always, the Pec was feeding very actively in amongst the weeds.

BEER: Ptarmigan ale

Beer update - Sainsbury's have a selection of ales that they don't normally stock as part of their annual Beer Awards thingy. One of these is a Cairngorm Brewery ale called "White Lady", featuring this rather nice Ptarmigan. Orkney Brewery have also fairly recently launched a Corncrake Ale, but I haven't managed to try that yet.

BROADLAND: Barton to Sutton

14th September 2012

After work we went out on Neil's boat from Barton Turf, taking in Barton Broad and a random windmill before going for a drink at Sutton Staithe Hotel. Bird-wise we saw the normal broadland fare (Marsh Harrier, Kingfisher, Grey Heron), but it was great to be out on the water.

NORWICH: Mousehold fungi

9th September 2012

Sunday saw a meeting of the Norfolk Fungus Study Group at Mousehold Heath. The dry weather meant that the overall total was low, but there were still several species of interest. A pale cup fungus growing on recently burnt wood could only be IDd to genus (Peziza), but the undoubted prize find was made by Neil near the end of the foray. A series of shiny black lumps on a singed birch trunk represent the first Norfolk record of Daldinia loculata, subject to confirmation from experts at Kew Gardens.

Daldinia loculata. There is a similar but much commoner species called Daldinia concentrica ('King Alfred's Cakes')

EAST NORFOLK: Southern Emerald Damseflies

8th September 2012

On Saturday we headed to Winterton so that I could have a look for two rare damselflies. Southern Emerald damselflies are rare but increasing immigrants to Britain, first seen in the early 2000s but seen in several years since. Scarce Blue-tailed Damselflies are found elsewhere in Britain, but had only been recorded once before in Norfolk before Simon found some at Winterton last week. The walk from the car park to the pools was further than I remembered, and with the sun beating down Cathy decided to find a place to sit and let me go on alone to look for the damselflies. When I got to the south pool there were five people there already, one of which kindly allowed me to look at a Southern Emerald through his 'scope. In total the pool held 2 male Southern Emeralds, three Emerald Damselflies, a Southern Hawker and lots of darters. With no sign of the Scarce Blue-tails I headed back to Cathy.

Southern Emerald Damselfly. Note the black and white pterostigma, nice bronzy bits on the thorax and the way the wings are spread out. It is known in some places as the Migrant Spreadwing.

On our way back across the dunes we were shocked by a Quail that flew out of the dunes to my left (presumably flushed by a dog, although I didn't see where it had come from). It flew across my path and landed in some scrubby heather near the fenceline. Despite getting a reasonable idea of where it had landed I couldn't find it again - not a great surprise given the species' reputation for elusiveness. There were also loads of Graylings and quite a few Small Coppers in the dunes as we went back to the car.

NORWICH: Rustyback Fern

6th September 2012

Back to work, but that doesn't mean that the fun stops. This unobtrusive fern growing on a wall near Magdalen Street is a Rustyback Fern, which is only found in ten or so locations around Norfolk, and in the absence of birds was very interesting.

Rustyback Fern

NORWICH AREA: Puffball & Slider

4th September 2012

Possibly against my better judgement I went for a ten mile walk around the south of the city, taking in Marston Marshes, Cringleford and UEA. I stopped at the Roadside Nature Reserve on Ipswich Road and counted at least 62 Sandy Stilt Puffballs, which was a very good showing. I then moved on to a surprisingly busy Marston Marshes. Not much bird action, but the sight of Banded Demoiselles darting about over the river was particularly nice. 

Sandy Stilt Puffball - one of only four fungi protected by law 
under Schedule 8 of the Wildlife & Countryside act.

I decided not to elongate my walk any further by going around Eaton Common, so I made my way to Cringleford and rejoined the river. As I got closer to UEA I found a pair of Kingfishers, which shot off past me along the river. Walking west around the broad I spotted the larger of two resident Red-eared Sliders (terrapin-type things) basking on a log. It was close to the shore and swam off when I got near, but I waited nearby (almost being landed on by a Kingfisher that diverted away at the last moment) and was able to get some photos when it returned. Nearby a Nuthatch called noisily and landed in a dead tree.

Hide and seek

Victory! Incidentally you may notice that for something called "Red-eared Slider", it doesn't seem to have any red on it. I can assure you that in the field there was a bit of a reddish area, but this is a variable characteristic apparently. And lets face it, there are loads of birds with completely inaccurate names, so we'll let this one off.

SUFFOLK: Landguard Common

3rd September 2012

With the summer holidays ending, there was just enough time for a trip deep into Suffolk to look for El Sparrow. After a brief wait whilst some of the sparrow flock was out of sight, the male Spanish Sparrow appeared at the top of some brambles. It showed well for short periods of time as the accompanying House Sparrow flock flew around the common, feeding alternately on the ground and in the brambles. There were also lots of Linnets feeding in the same area, and the evening sunshine contributed to a very pleasant evening. I rather like Landguard, and would certainly consider annexing it during Norfolk's next land-grab.