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For previous years (2012-2019) see the links on the Whitlingham Bird List page.

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.

WEST NORFOLK: Black Darter & new Titchwell trails.

2nd September 2012

As summer draws to a close, Dad & I went to Roydon Common in search of Black Darters. It proved to be a good all-round naturalists trip. On the bird front a couple of Buzzards circled overhead, and some Crossbills called as they flew through. A Stoat ran across our path, and a we startled a Chinese Water Deer amongst some rushes. A Small Copper and lots of Speckled Woods were flying around, whilst Roesel's Bush Crickets and Common Green Grasshoppers chirruped away. I noticed an Artichoke Gall on an oak, and whilst looking at that Dad pointed out several Buff-tip caterpillars on nearby leaves. Finally after seeing loads of Common and Ruddy Darters, we located an immature male Black Darter, a species I have wanted to see for some time (thanks to Paul W for his help with directions).

After an excellent roast lunch at the Ffolkes Arms (sic) at Hillington, we headed north to have a look at the new paths at Titchwell. We popped into the Island Mere hide, where several Black-tailed Godwits and Ruff were really close to the hide (if I had been a birder from 200 years ago I reckon I could definitely have bagged them wt ye crossbowe). A Peregrine flew east over the main path. We had a look over the new pool, named Patsy's Pool after Patsy Cline*, a female Red-crested Pochard and four Little Grebes being the pick of the birds. Continuing round we arrived at Titchwell's East Bank, and looked back over the freshmarsh. A single Spoonbill had emerged (the flock of 21 had been spooked off before we arrived apparently). It was all very nice, hopefully I shall be back here to see something rare in the near future!

* This may not be true. 

WHITLINGHAM: No seabirds here

31st August 2012

With some good Northerly winds the previous afternoon, I crossed my fingers that a seabird had been blown inland and ended up at Whitlingham. With the exception of a few seaducks I haven't heard of any Skuas etc ever being seen there (although I have read of Arctic Skua, Fulmar and Kittiwake being seen rather vaguely in "Norwich") - but is this an accurate reflection of the absence of seabirds, or of the tendency for inland birders to flood to the coast when the winds swing round?

There didn't appear to be anything unusual on the broad or across the river at Thorpe, and in fact the only bird of interest was a drake Pochard in the conservation area. I thought at the time that this was unusual in August, but having checked it doesn't appear to be so - I also saw Pochard in August 2007 and 2010. The brambles along the riverbank were teaming with insects, including a Silver Y and a photogenic Brown Hawker, whilst a Red Admiral caterpillar was munching on some nettles.

The walk back was good, seeing two of my favourite birds. Firstly a Goldcrest feeding with the tit flock along the edge of the Little Broad showed brilliantly but constantly evaded my camera, and then further down the lane at Trowse Meadows a Kingfisher flew upstream.