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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.

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