The Whitlingham Bird Report 2020 is available now (click here)

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

NORTH-WEST NORFOLK: Holme fungi extravaganza

26th October 2014

At the start of the year when I was coming up with my target species for the year there were quite a few fungi, and in the end I settled up with a few either/or species. Several of the ones that I hadn't seen can be found at Holme Dunes NWT reserve, where this year Rob Smith and a group of local naturalists have been putting in a concerted recording effort. So far they have recorded over 2000 species between them, and the blog of their exploits is well worth a read - it can be found here. Anyway, Rob had very kindly offered to show me some of the dune specialties that I hadn't seen, and in return I hoped to identify some new species for their list.

I arrived at Holme just before 10:30 to find Rob, Andy and Adrian waiting for me at the visitors centre. After introductions we headed off for the pines to see what we could find. My first target was Scaly Stalkball, a relative of the Winter Stalkball that I had seen in February. On the way we stopped to admire an array of Collared Earthstars (Geastrum triplex), lots of Milky Bonnets (Hemimycena lactea) and a Hare's Ear (Otidea onotica). Emerging from the pines we puzzled over a couple of interesting bracket fungi and saw Snowy, Dune and Blackening Waxcaps (Hygrocybe virginea, conicoides and conica). Before moving on we inspected some Rabbit pellets for nail fungi without success, before arriving at the Scaly Stalkballs (Tulostoma melanocyclum).

Now into the dunes, we were looking for Dune Stinkhorn (Phallus hadriani). A stick marked the spot, but where was the fungus? It was still there, but it had been completely dessicated ("well it is a cold day" was muttered!) We carried on, seeing many more Dune Waxcaps and then another couple of sand specialists, Dune Cavalier (Melanoleuca cinerifolia) and Dune Brittlestem (Psathyrella ammophila) before heading back to the pines. Here we met Karla, who had just photographed a coral fungus. She offered to show us, and we went and had a look. It was small and beige, beneath the pines and the tips discoloured a blue/green, which I believe makes it Ramaria abietina. Nearby we also saw a few Sessile Earthstars and some Liver Milkcaps (Lactarius hepaticus), the milk of which discoloured bright yellow on white tissue.

After a quick bite to eat we went out into the west dunes, walking past a clump of Inocybe sp. We soon located the other species I had particularly wanted to see, Sea Buckthorn Bracket (Phellinus hippophaeicola). Several other species were seen along the path, including a rather out-of-place Collared Earthstar, before I spotted another species of Coral sp. growing amongst the short-cut grass. There were no nearby trees, and this one had brown tips to the branches. A couple of Blackening Waxcaps that were completely black were nice to see, and we also saw a numerous yellowy 'toadstool' type growing in marshy grassland that we couldn't identify. The last fungus of the day was a new one for me - Field Bird's Nest (Cyathus olla) - previously I had only seen Common Bird's Nest.

Many thanks to Rob, Andy, Adrian and Karla for the time, company and local knowledge, which contributed to an excellent days mycology.

NORTH WALSHAM: A bit of lawn fungi

25th October 2014

Having gone back to North Walsham to see friends, I was delayed a few minutes before going inside as I poked about on their lawn looking at the birch fungi present. There was a good crop of Brown Birch Boletes (Leccinum scabrum), some Brown Roll-rims (Paxillus involutus) and some Russula sp that I still haven't identified to my satisfaction, despite them coming up last year as well.

 Brown Birch Bolete
Brown Roll-rim
Russula sp.

SUFFOLK: Minsmere fungi

19th October 2014

On Sunday Cathy, Margaret & I had a leisurely look around Minsmere and Westleton heath. Birds of the day were probably a pair of Stonechats on the heath, but we did see some impressive-sized fungi, including Fly Agaric and some Parasols. There were also loads of Common Darters resting along the path edges.

30 THINGS: 11/30 Parrot Waxcap + Earlham Cemetery fungi

18th October 2014

Every month the Friends of Earlham Cemetery hold a walk around the cemetery to look for whatever the season has to offer. This one was led by Ian and focussed on fungi. Ian knew that I wanted to see Parrot Waxcap this autumn, and had kindly done a recce in the morning and located a couple of specimens. When I saw them I appreciated the effort - locating a small green fungus amongst the grass is no mean feat! The group spent around 2 hours walking on our tour, and despite the relatively dry autumn we still saw over 40 species. Some of the more interesting species included Striated Earthstar, Sessile Earthstar, Parrot Waxcap, Meadow Waxcap, Meadow Coral, Earthtongues and Sulphur Knight. There were also large amounts of the coral fungus Ramaria flaccida and Dog Stinkhorn.

Striated Earthstar
Sessile Earthstar
Parrot Waxcap
Meadow Coral
Earthtongue sp.
Sulphur Knight
Ramaria flaccida

WHITLINGHAM: October bird count

11th October 2014

On Saturday evening I carried out Octobers WeBS counts at Whitlingham, narrowly avoiding getting caught in the heavy rain and storms. Incidentally if you are an infrequent visitor to Whitlingham you may be interested to know that several extra bits of Whitlingham Lane have been double yellow lined, so double-check before parking (or if you're a regular buy a season ticket for the car parks - £35 or £30 direct debit).

Pleasingly duck numbers had increased from last month. The Little Broad held an eclipse male Shoveler, a female Teal and 23 Gadwall. These were split between the weedy areas at either end of the broad. On the Great Broad there were 102 Greylag Geese, 94 Mallard, 118 Coot and around 200 Black-headed Gulls. 10 Gadwall, 5 Tufted Ducks and a Little Grebe were also of note. Across the river at Thorpe a Green Sandpiper was on the end of the spit, particularly pleasing as I hadn't seen any on spring passage.

NORTH NORFOLK: Obligatory Shrike post

11th October 2014

Having not been to see Norfolk's first Steppe Grey Shrike* last Sunday, I had been admiring the many photos of it to hit the web. Thankfully it did the decent thing and stayed until the weekend, so Cathy & I headed to Burnham Norton to have a look. Luckily for us the forecast storms didn't happen until the evening and we got excellent views of the Steppe Grey Shrike with just a little bit of rain. This also allowed us to bust the myth that cows lay down when it's going to rain, as only one cow was laying down before and during the rain. The moral of the story? Don't trust cows. Oh, and take a waterproof coat with you when you go out in the autumn.

"Rain? We only sit down for hail or earthquakes"

* The name 'Steppe Grey Shrike' is a bit of a misnomer and may be changed in the future, along with much of the Grey Shrike taxonomy. Currently it is treated as a subspecies of Southern Grey Shrike.

THORPE MARSH: Buzzard but no Emeralds

5th October 2014

I made a brief visit to Thorpe Marsh to see if anything new had turned up. I scrutinised the trees that line the ditches in the hope of seeing my first patch Willow Emerald damselfly, without success. Most of the scrape was hidden from view by the vegetation, so I carried on along the path where I met another birder and we stopped to scan the marsh. A Common Buzzard flew in and landed on one of the dead trees, probably the first time I have actually seen one perched up here. It was mobbed by several Magpies, before they went and got some Carrion Crow backup to eventually shift the Buzzard. Whilst watching a Grey Heron fly over a Hobby flew past, but I missed it (well I saw it, but as an unidentified black dot, so I'm not counting it). I continued my lap, but the broad was almost devoid of birds and nothing much else was around.