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

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

NORWICH: Train Wood aphids and leaf mines

24th October 2017

Having left the lunchtime beer festival session, I had some free time before going to a talk by Alice Roberts at the Playhouse. Adam and I headed to Train Wood, ostensibly to look for fungi, but there wasn't much of it about. Probably the most interesting find here were some aphids - firstly Large Willow Aphid, but then a similar species that Robert Maidstone identified for me as Plocamaphis flocculosa. Amongst this later species was the larva of a Eupeodes hoverfly.

We did manage to find a bit of fungi, including one of the Eyelash fungi, Scutellinia sp.

A few leaf mines were found, of which Red Hazel Midget (Phyllonorycter nicellii) was a new one, albeit unoccupied. In terms of agromyzids I recorded Amauromyza verbasci on Mullein and Phytomyza plantiginis on Ribwort Plantain, but a mine on Traveller's Joy was one of a species pair. 

NORWICH: London Midget

24th October 2017

On Tuesday I met Adam & Karl for a visit to the Norwich Beer Festival. There wasn't much in the way of new bird related beers, but I did have Jo C's Stout Robin and an Eagle Ale, whilst Adam pointed out that People's Raveningham Bitter had 'Raven' in the name, so we tried that too. I did manage to get a new species out of the trip, finding a mine of the London Midget moth, Phyllonorycter platani on a fallen London Plane leaf. Now is a good time to find these mines if you are interested in micro moths/pan-species listing. I suspect they are on most of the plane trees around Norwich.

NORWICH AREA: Citrus leaf-miner

23rd October 2017

Cathy & I had lunch at a garden centre cafe, and afterwards I noticed several lemon trees in large pots. Wandering over to them I soon found a leaf mine, which I recognised from photos as Phyllocnistis citrella. This species has only been recorded in Norfolk on three previous occasions, all in the past few years. It completed my set of four Norfolk Phyllocnistis mines, having seen the other poplar and willow species around Norwich.

NORWICH: Orange Coral

22nd October 2017

An addendum to the last post really. One of the important parts about any wildlife watching or recording is that the more familiar you get with common species, the more likely you are to spot something different. One of the relatively common fungi in good-quality grassland habitats is Meadow Coral, a species that varies in colour from yellow to a sort of yellowy-orange, and also in how branched it is. Below are a couple of photos of Meadow Coral, from Earlham Cemetery and Felbrigg.

Fortunately for me, Ian Senior sees a lot of it, so when he found a clump of coral fungus that looked more orange than Meadow Coral he gave a piece to Tony Leech, the county fungus recorder, to double check it. Ian was proved right, and this orangier coral was identified as the aptly named Orange Coral, Clavulinopsis crocea, new for Norfolk. Having been given directions I managed to see it after the foray last weekend, thanks again Ian.

NORWICH: Earlham Cemetery fungus walk

22nd October 2017

On Sunday the monthly walk at Earlham Cemetery was focussing on fungi, but I had to delay my arrival to see the end of the Norwich vs Ipswich derby match on TV. Fortunately Norwich won, so I was in a good mood when I arrived at the cemetery and caught up with the group. There was a bit of rain in the air, which meant a relatively small group.

There was noticeably less fungi about than usual at this time of year, but one of the ones we did found was quite unusual, in that it was covered in white fleecy granules that rubbed off easily. We later passed it on to Tony Leech, who was able to identify it as the second Norfolk record of Cystoderma moelleri, which was good as we weren't even sure what genus it was.

Whilst standing by a Beech tree I picked up some leaves and showed Jeremy the leaf mines in them, and perhaps unsurprisingly they turned out to be new to the cemetery list (you can find lists and details about much of the cemetery's wildlife on the resources page of the Friends of Earlham Cemetery website). Later on I added another couple of leaf mines on Silver Birch leaves, including Stigmella luteella which was one I hadn't recorded before.

Moving on we saw some oldish Striated Earthstars and the yellow cup fungus Sowerbyella radiculata. The highlight of the walk came when Vanna found some Clouded Agarics with Piggyback Rosegills growing on them. This species is not unlike the Silky Piggybacks that I saw at Somerleyton growing on Blackening Russulas, and is rather uncommon so a great find.

There were three more interesting finds, a pinkish Mycena that turned out to be Mycena metata, Smoky Domecap (both identified later by Tony) and Inkstain Bolete. I had only see Inkstain Bolete once before, around 20 years ago (I got interested in fungi at an early age!) so it was great to see this. The fruiting bodies don't look particularly spectacular to begin with, but stain a dark blue almost immediately once cut. Thanks to Ian for leading the walk and his local knowledge in locating certain species.

NORTH NORFOLK: Felbrigg fungi

21st October 2017

The second trip of my weekend of fungi took me to the grounds of Felbrigg Hall for a joint fungus study group and NNNS walk. High winds were forecast for the afternoon and I was a bit worried that we would be asked not to go into the old wood, but common sense prevailed and we were simply told to not stay anywhere we didn't think was safe. Tony's introduction warned participants that the recent spell of dry weather meant there were less fungi about than usual for the time of year, and with that off we went.

The group had been asked to record the area of woodland near the top of the 'victory V', but as with any wildlife group there was clearly much to stop and look at before we got to the desired area. Felbrigg has some good Waxcap grassland in front of the hall, and we soon found ourselves encamped there, taking in the multicoloured delights of Scarlet, Golden, Snowy and Parrot Waxcaps, the latter including some very deep green specimens.

Further along we also encountered Petticoat Mottlegills, Meadow Coral, one of the yellow club sp and another coral, Ramariopsis kunzei. I decided to head off towards the woodland in an effort to speed us up a bit, but having seen the group behind remain static for a while I decided I should go back and see what they were looking at. I was glad that I did, because someone had found a Scarlet Caterpillar Club, a species I'd long wanted to see. This species is unusual in that it grows up out a buried moth pupa. According to Stephen and Yvonne it is common in north-west England, but it seems to be scarcer here in Norfolk.

We left the grassland and headed up into the woods, seeing another flush of species including some pristine Oyster Mushrooms and some Spindeshank (apparently now renamed Spindle Toughshank). I took advantage of Stewart Wright's presence to find out about several leaf mines that were obvious due to the 'green island' effect amongst the brown leaves, including a new one for me, Ectoedemia subbimaculella.

After lunch we headed up into the woods, finally getting to the area we were meant to be surveying. The species were being added to the list constantly, including charistmatic things like Beefsteak fungus, Dyer's Mazegill and Red-cracking Bolete, plus subtler ones like Beechleaf Bonnet, Beechmast Candlesnuff and Beech Jelly Disc (no prizes for guessing what the predominant tree species was!).

One of the more interesting sightings was a Stinkhorn egg. These are usually round and smooth, but the one here, presumably as a result of drying out, had formed a sort of geometric shape. We cut through to double check, and saw the top fully formed and ready to 'hatch'. After some photographs I put it back together, and based on other experience I think it will still grow.

By the time we'd got back to the car park we had seen over 130 species, almost certainly my most productive foray ever!

NORTH NORFOLK: Sustead Common fungi

20th October 2017

For the first of a weekend of fungus forays I headed to Sustead Common, where Tony Leech was leading a walk for the Felbeck Trust. He cautioned that the recent spell of dry weather meant that fungus numbers were currently lower than they had been earlier in the month, and he was proved right, with 37 species recorded. However, several of these were a bit unusual, so slightly oddly it was some of the commoner species that omitted.

Whilst the group assembled I went over to a Hawthorn hedge and found Hawthorn Twiglet (a small species that grows on buried Hawthorn berries), Scaly Earthball and Brown Cup. I then spotted some more fungi in an area of flat ground in the middle of the wildflower area, so we all went over for a look. There were two species here, and neither were field identifiable. Tony took samples home and identified them as Entoloma undatum and Rhodocybe popinalis, both species I've not seen before.

 Brown Cup
 Entoloma undatum
 Rhodocybe populina

We continued across the common, seeing Red-edged Brittlestem and Frosty Bonnet. On the edge of a culvert I noticed a small Helvella, which I assumed was just a small specimen of White Saddle. As is so often the case however there are many similar species, and it turned out this was the 3rd Norfolk record of Helvella latispora.

After a few more stops to see Cushion Bracket, Smokey Bracket and Burnt Knight, we headed out along the road and crossed over into Spurrell's Wood. This area is now also managed by the Felbeck Trust, although it doesn't currently have any public access so I was visiting it for the first time. The area is mostly relatively young woodland, and as there was a lot of Hazel it didn't take us long to find Fiery Milkcap, a symbiotic species.

The lack of old and standing wood restricted the species list a bit here, but we continued to add a few more species, with Fragile Brittlegill and Pearly Webcap were both of note. A Tawny Owl called nearby, whilst we also saw Siskins, Redwing and a small V of Pink-footed Geese, all sure signs of autumn. Thanks to Tony and the Felbeck Trust for organising the foray - I look forward to seeing how the site develops in the next few years.

YARE VALLEY: Strumpshaw fungi walk

15th October 2017

On Sunday I joined Rodger to lead a fungi walk around Strumpshaw Fen. Although there is a relatively small number of people recording fungi, they seem to be growing in popularity generally - the walk was fully booked with an extensive waiting list.

After a brief introductory talk and handing out of a worksheet I'd put together, we headed off into the woods. The first stop was the marquee clearing, where a good range of species were growing on or near the log circle. Species here included Honey Fungus, Glistening Ink Caps, several bracket fungi, some Peeling Oysterlings and an interesting-looking yellowy-green species. I didn't recognise it, so I took one of them home to check and it turned out to be Mousepee Pinkgill (the name is down to the smell!), a new species for me.

 Peeling Oysterling

Walking along to the next clearing we stopped to admire a young Frosty Webcap. After looking at the different stages of Sulphur Tuft, another interesting sighting nearby was some bonnets growing on a rotten log. These looked like Common Bonnet, but I was puzzled by the red markings on some of them. There is a scarce species that has red marks, but having contacted Tony Leech he was able to point me in the right direction, notably that the red is caused by a secondary fungus (Fusarium sp). Some of them were also covered in Bonnet Mould, so three fungi were present on one fruiting body.

Last year there were earthballs and Amethyst Deceivers along a dyke, but this year there was no sign of either. We did continue to see a good range of species though, including Common Puffballs, Bluefoot Bolete and Stinkhorns. Several types of Milkcap were seen, including Coconut Milkcap. As well as all the fungi we saw several types of slime mould, although some small red balls that I thought were another slime mould turned out to be a second new species of the day for me, Nectria coccinea.

Our walk through the woods had to be paused when one of the participants hurt her ankle, but once help was on the way the rest of the group explored one more clearing, adding Skullcap Dapperling, Lumpy Bracket, Birch Polypore, Common Earthball, Jelly Ear and Purple Jellydisc to the list.

Thanks to everyone who came along - if you were there and would like a copy of the species list then get in touch via the comments or email.

WHITLINGHAM: Jackdaw roost & leafmines

12th October 2017

In a few weeks time after work trips to Whitlingham will once again become impossible until the spring, so I made the most of the light and spent an hour looking and listening for migrants. The only birds of note were hundreds of Jackdaws going to roost in trees on the main island, and a flyover Grey Wagtail.

Of other stuff, I saw several Parent Bugs on the Alders, and also these leaf mines that have caused a bit of discussion online. Leafmine guru John Langmaid agreed with me that they were Phyllonorycter klemaniella, but the reddish triangle at the base of the midrib is a feature of the (usually longer) mines of Phyllonorycter froelichiella, so at some point I need to go back for another look.

As well as the Alders I also checked some Ash trees, hoping to find one of the Agromyzid Recording Scheme's target mines. I didn't, but did find a moth mine. It keyed out nicely online as Prays fraxinella, but when I went to submit it I found out that the species has been split and there is no information about the mines of the 'new' species Prays ruficeps, so it has to go down as either/or.

NORWICH: Unusual sightings

9th October 2017

Norwich is a pretty good city for wildlife, and as such I often see new or interesting species whilst walking to and from work, or whilst in the city centre. On Monday morning I thought I had filled my quota of unexpected sightings for the day when a Muntjac Deer ran across Lakenham Way in front of me, but as it was there was something else to see.

Late afternoon I received an email from Gary, complete with a photo of an L-album Wainscot moth. This was a bit of a surprise, as there have been very few records from Norfolk. The species now has a breeding population in Suffolk, but the two pre-2017 Norfolk records were thought to be immigrants from the continent. The larval foodplant is Marram grass, which is in short supply in Norwich. 

Looking more carefully at the photo I thought that it didn't look like the decor in Gary's house, which was confirmed when he told me that the moth was in the womens toilets at his workplace in the city centre. This begged an obvious question, however there turned out to be a mundane explanation - Alysia had found the moth, then been sent back into the toilets to get a photo, then (after a gap so as not to make colleagues think she was ill!) finally to catch the moth. Gary very kindly brought it round on his way home so that I could have a look. This turned out to be the 6th Watsonian Norfolk record (7th administrative), and interestingly another one was found in Norwich the day after.

WHITLINGHAM: October wildfowl count and fungi

8th October 2017

Sunday was WeBS day, so I was off to Whitlingham for some bird counting. That proved harder than it could have been at the Little Broad, with the vegetation having grown up to the extent that the corner near the path to the large car park is the only reasonable viewpoint at the moment. A Water Rail squealed unseen from the reeds as I scanned the far end.

Moving on to the Great Broad there wasn't much of note, a begging juvenile Great-crested Grebe, the Pintail x Mallard hybrid and 2 Little Grebes were the pick of the bunch. Of the rest the Greylag Goose numbers are well up on the previous year but we are yet to see Coot numbers build up.

Mute Swan 24 (2016: 36)
Greylag Goose 96 (2016: 15)
Mallard 47 (2016: 54)
Coot 58 (2016: 163)

Over at Thorpe again the vegetation hampered visibility - small numbers of Tufted Ducks, Gadwall and Teal were seen but the Shoveler that have been reported recently weren't visible.

Sunday was also UK Fungus Day, so it was fitting that I saw a couple of interesting species. The first was Blushing Wood Mushroom, which was growing on some woodchips. Much rarer was Allopsalliota geesterani. This interesting fungus is a shaggy, robust species that bruises bright yellow to start with before turning red. It was seen at Whitlingham in 2009 and that was only the second UK location following a site in Yorkshire. It had not been seen again at Whitlingham since, so this was a pleasing rediscovery, particularly as I had been frustrated knowing something so rare was around somewhere!

I also saw three new agromyzid leaf mines, including one of the schemes October target species, Aulagromyza luteoscutellata, in Snowberry.

YARE VALLEY: Buckenham Carrs fungi

7th October 2017

On Saturday Ian & I made our way down the Yare Valley towards Hassingham, where we were accessing the private woodland at Buckenham Carrs. The owners are keen for naturalists to record the wildlife on their estate, and the NNNS have made it a research project for the next couple of years. There had been two visits so far, one of the research committee and one from the Norfolk moth survey, neither of which I could attend, but on this one we were looking at fungi.

We met up with a slightly depleted group in the car park (Tony and Neil were both busy elsewhere) and after a quick briefing as to where we could go, we set off across an area of grassland to a small arboretum. There were a few Mycena and Blackening Waxcaps in the grassland but numbers started to pick up in the woods. An early highlight came in the form of some Stubble Rosegills. These large white toadstools were new for some of the group, although I had seen them once before at Holt. I was puzzled by a strange noise coming from the vegetation nearby, and it only became apparent what was making it when a Reeve's Pheasant wandered by.

The next phase of our walk took us into some wet woodland and this area was productive, with Dark Honey Fungus, a small purple Cortinarius, Ochre Aldercap and Blue Roundhead. In a nearby bit of Alder carr we saw Lilac and Fiery Milkcaps, Jellybabies (now seemingly a regular find) and some Olive Oysterlings. We headed back to the cars for lunch, stopping on the way to look at some Mistletoe growing at eye level. The final find before lunch was some Apricot Clubs on the lawn.

The rain began to fall a bit harder, so we ate lunch in the cars. After a short break we then headed off to look at another area of woodland. The fungi here was different to the areas we had checked earlier in the day, with Common Puffballs, Upright Coral, and a nice patch of Aniseed Funnels. Peeling Oysterling was another good find here, before we left the woods and found some more grassland species, including Wood Pinkgill.

Before calling it a day we took in a third area of wet woodland. Yvonne managed to find two very small but interesting fungi growing on plant debris. Mycena pterigena is a small bonnet with red gill edges that grows on fern debris, whilst Marasmius limosus is a parachute found on reed. After a quick walk to the end of the path to look out over the broad, we returned to the cottage. We had a brief chat with our host, who talked up a Kingfisher that flew in and perched on a bridge nearby.

In total we managed over 80 species in a relatively small area, so another successful foray.