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: Wrinkled Peach fungus

28th September 2014

A busy weekend, but I nipped out on Sunday afternoon to have a look for another interesting fungus. My target was Wrinkled Peach, an unusual looking species that grows on Elm. Michelle Hoare, a local mycologist, had found two in Trowse Woods on her way back from last weeks fungus foray and kindly given me directions. I failed to find the first one, but luckily the second was more obvious, growing on a log beside a footpath.

30 THINGS: 10/30 Earthstar sp.

23rd September 2014

Just over a week ago Ian Senior found some earthstars in Earlham Cemetery which looked different from the ones he had seen there previously. As I hadn't seen any earthstars around Norwich I was keen to have a look, particularly as they were one of my '30 things to look for'. Ian kindly emailed me directions, so after work Cathy & I went to have a look. They took some finding, as they were along the edge of a path and had been knocked over. Definitely a new species for me as I have only seen the larger Collared Earthstar, but the actual species is still being confirmed (they are probably Sessile Earthstars).

Earlham Cemetery also hosts the last remaining fungus on this years target list (Parrot Waxcap), but unfortunately the best areas for Waxcaps had recently been mown. Amongst the grassy debris I did find a couple of Blackening Waxcaps, which I haven't seen around Norwich before. There were a few other bits and bobs too - Cathy found lots of earthballs and one tree stump was surrounded by Giant Polypore.

THORPE MARSH: Patch tick - Whinchat

21st September 2014

This year so far has not been a classic for birds at Whitlingham, and it was more than a year since I had seen a new patch bird. Of the commoner species I am yet to see locally Whinchat seemed the most likely as there had been a large influx at the start of September. One had been seen at Thorpe on the 6th, and another one this Wednesday, so when a local birder asked if there was much about, I told him to keep an eye out in case. I thought no more about it until I got a message from Joe, telling me that he had just seen two Whinchats at Thorpe. Cathy supportively agreed to delay the shopping to allow me to go and have a look.

I arrived at Thorpe and met Joe coming back towards the railway. He kindly turned round and walked back along the footpath to the marsh to show me where he had seen the Whinchats. On the way we stopped and watched several Snipe flying low onto the scrape. When Joe had last seen the Whinchats they had gone into an area of scrub near the middle of the marsh, so we stood on the footpath nearby. There was no sign of anything perched up on the bushes, but then we noticed the two Whinchats fly up and then continue high over the railway line towards the paddock on Bungalow Lane. Having made sure they weren't just looping round we headed back, on the way getting a fleeting look at a damselfly that was probably (but not conclusively) a Willow Emerald, a species which has been seen here for the first time last week. Many thanks to Joe for passing on news of his sighting, my 141st patch bird and 802nd patch species in total.

NORTH-EAST NORFOLK: Happisburgh owl barn

20th September 2014

In the afternoon Cathy, Margaret & I went to Happisburgh Owl Barn. I only heard about the owl barn recently but as it only opens until the end of September we were keen to go before it shuts for the winter. The star attractions are two melanistic Barn Owls. These are very rare in general because of the mutation that causes the dark colouration, but are apparently almost unheard of in the wild because the parents don't recognise the dark chick as one of their own and eject it from the nest.

We spent a lovely couple of hours at the owl barn. The owner and staff were very friendly, making us a cup of tea when we arrived and answering questions. All of the owls have been hand-reared and can be held and observed close up. I know that captive birds aren't for everyone, but this collection are taken to events and used to get people who would otherwise have very little connection with the natural world to appreciate birds, so I think that's quite a worthy cause.

'Dusk' - one of two melanistic Barn Owls at Happisburgh

'Blizzard' (Photo Cathy Emerson)

[Postscript] After leaving the owls we headed on to Walcott for some chips on the seafront. As we left Happisburgh a flock of c30 Pink-footed Geese flew over, my first of the autumn. At least 12 Turnstones were on the seawall at Walcott, and scanning the sea we saw 6 Red-breasted Mergansers and 8 Brent Geese fly north. A distant Skua sp was probably an Arctic.

WHITLINGHAM: Trowse fungus foray

20th September 2014

This morning I joined the Norfolk Fungus Study Group for a foray at Trowse Woods. Before most of the group had assembled I popped into the ski club car park to have a look at a clump of Bovine Boletes found by Andy Musgrove last week. We then had a look in the cemetery next-door, where we saw Lepiota aspera and a rust on spurge (hopefully exact ID to come).

Heading into the woods we saw a number of small agarics, including two Marasmius species that were new to me, M. rotula and M. wynnei. Probably the fungus of the day for me was a mycena that exuded orange latex called Mycena crocata. Some of the specimens had a type of mould on them (Spinellus fusiger) that made them hairy. We also saw Orange-peel Fungus, Stump Puffballs and many others. Andy joined us for a bit and was able to pot an interesting looking harvestman, which he later identified as Mitopus morio.

WHITLINGHAM: September counts & new Shieldbug

7th September 2014

Today was the monthly wildfowl count day, so I headed down to Whitlingham. The day was overcast to begin with, and there was a rather eerie silence, broken only by the monotonous droning of Roesel's Bush Crickets. Given the recent arrival of Whinchats along the coast I double checked all of the fenceposts, without success (later I found out that there had been a Whinchat at Thorpe marsh on Saturday - a shame I didn't know at the time).

The highlight of the counts was a 1st-winter Yellow-legged Gull on the Great Broad with the Lesser Black-backs. A flock of 22 Tufted Ducks had joined the existing four, and a pair of Gadwall had either returned or re-emerged. A Kingfisher was visible on the end of the island, whilst I also heard one zip downriver. Whilst scanning I noticed that a number of Migrant Hawkers were flying around clumps of Flag Iris, and I managed to photograph one as it stalled in mid-air. Walking along the north shore I noticed several unusual Shieldbug. At home I was able to identify them as Brassica Shieldbugs, a new species for me and one that seems to have only recently spread as far north as Norfolk.

Migrant Hawker

Brassica Shieldbug