Last week of January 2021
Despite classing Whitlingham as being in my local area I had avoided the area since our Jan 1st pre-lockdown visit, mainly because I suspected it would be quite busy. Towards the end of the month I had to go that side of the city to pick up Cathy after work and it was drizzling, so I figured it would be fine for my daughter and I to go for a walk there. Reassuringly there weren't many people around at all, so we had a nice albeit rather muddy walk. The highlight was a Great White Egret, visible almost immediately along the far edge of the broad. We also picked up various sticks to look at the lichens, and I noticed the pale orange blobs of the lichenicolous fungus Erythricium aurantiacum, which was a new one for the site.
Later in the week there was a few sunny spells, and during my walk to and from work I heard a singing Grey Wagtail and three singing Song Thrushes, both new for the year. A walk at the weekend in Waterloo Park turned up another microfungus lifer, Spilopodia nervisequa. This was one of two fungi that can be found on yellowing Ribwort Plantain leaves (as tipped off by Stewart Wright), and can be identified by holding the leaf up to the light and observing the thick black hyphal strands between black apothecia. I'm still looking for the other species!
The month ended with the RSPB's Big Garden Birdwatch. During the chosen hour we only had visits from six species; Woodpigeon, Collared Dove, Blackbird, Starling, Blue Tit and Goldfinch. Later that day we did have a Sparrowhawk land on the garden fence, sadly attempts to photograph it through the window are not blog worthy.
By the end of January I had managed to see 48 bird species - probably the lowest January total I've ever recorded, but not surprising given the lack of actual birding.