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

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.