A quick twitch! 21 November 2020

Due to work commitments and dark nights birding during the week is a no-no at this time of year. Luckily the adult male Desert Wheatear at Gramborough Hill, Salthouse did the decent thing and hung on all week for me! I have seen double-figures of these in the UK including 2 others at Salthouse but this one beat the lot in terms of looks as all the others have been 1w birds. It was blowing hard on the coast and consequently the bird was favouring the sheltered north side of the hill by the beach. The high tides of two days ago had wrecked all manner of starfish, fish and crabs on the beach there including a Hermit Crab which had set up residence in a Whelk shell.

We had to get back to Norwich to help my aged parents with some things but there was time on the way back to call in to Horsham St Faiths for the 2 Glossy Ibis in wet fields on the northern edge of the village. They showed well albeit rather distantly.

                                                                                                                                  Desert Wheatear
                                                                                                                                         Glossy Ibises

                                                                                                                                           Hermit Crab
        Sea Urchin

Dusky Warbler at Lowestoft North Denes, 14 November 2020

Looking at the weather forecast for tomorrow it was clear that it had to be today that I ventured out birding!

The Dusky Warbler found 6 days ago on the bracken-covered slope at North Denes was a bird I'd wanted to catch up with and sure enough I managed to get some nice views of this typically elusive individual, helped by the fact that is was calling fairly frequently. All my views were of it in flight but they included some quite lengthy flight views at close range. After having a catch up with Rob Wilton and Andrew Easton I walked down to Ness Point and the turbine yard and failed to find Purple Sandpipers or Black Redstart! A nice 1w Caspian Gull was my only reward as the weather closed in and I made the wet walk back to the Links Road carpark. Here I was greeted by 5 Mediterranean Gulls and managed to photograph 3 of them from the dry refuge of the car!

A brief call-in at Carlton Marshes on the way past revealed a very promising first visit to their cafe! The rain was steady by now so I scoffed and left.

                                                                                                                           Mediterranean Gulls

Whitlingham CP, 13 November 2020

A Friday stroll around Whitlingham after a visit to my elderly parents to drop off some goulash!

It wasn't exactly all go and I failed to find Blue Roundhead but nevertheless 2 new ferns for me brought my UK plant list up to the 650 milestone. They were Hart's Tongue Fern and Scaly Male Fern. Around the slipway the resident Barnacle Goose was looking fed up and a drake Mandarin showed rather too well on the return walk!

                                                                                                                                 Hart's Tongue Fern
                                                                                                                                        Scaly Male Fern
                                                                                                                                             Barnacle Goose

My first Greater Yellowlegs for 25 years, 8 November 2020

Having flown off the previous afternoon I wasn't expecting to head for the coast to see Greater Yellowlegs on Sunday. Amazingly it returned to it's favoured pool on Dingle Marshes north of Dunwich and with the news getting out early it was unexpectedly game on.

The trudge on the shingle north from Dunwich beach carpark was rather leg-sapping but luckily the bird was present on arrival. And what a bird! A lovely moulting adult that was confiding, often venturing towards the front edge of the pool and dwarfing a nearby Redshank

There was, of course, another reason for visiting this stretch of coast - 2 Eastern Yellow Wagtails incredibly only a couple of hundred yards from where there was one this time last year. Jus and I walked further north from the yellowlegs to the spot where the 2 birds were seen in lengthy flight and calling within just 10 minutes. Despite seeming heading high south they doubled back and both birds went on to give some great views on the back edge of the shingle and in a ditch. One bird, presumably an adult was very yellow underneath while the other was a paler, greyer bird (presumably a 1w) with just a hint of yellow on the central breast and vent. It really was a bit of deja-vu! Other than a Stonechat, Reed Bunting and plenty of Sea Mayweed it really was a bit of a dirty twitch! 

                                                                                                                                 Greater Yellowlegs
                                                                                                                 Eastern Yellow Wagtail, adult
                                                                                                                    Eastern Yellow Wagtail, 1w
                                                                                                                                         Sea Mayweed

Waveney Valley wander, 7 November 2020

Out of neccesity we needed to take it easy with walking this weekend so a 3 mile slow wander in the nearby Waveney Valley near Mendham seemed like a good choice. The weather was gorgeous and the temperature up to 15 degrees so it was very pleasant indeed. Birds seen/heard included Common Buzzard, 2 Green Woodpeckers, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Redwings, Fieldfares and Bullfinch

Most pleasing however were 2 new fungi for me - an Oak Bracket on the base of an oak in the lane showing typical 'weeping' on the surface and the superbly named Splendid Rustgill in the woods. Flowers still in bloom included some nice Lesser Burdock.

                                                                                                                                             Oak Bracket
                                                                                                                                    Splendid Rustgill
                                                                                                                                     Lesser Burdock


Halesworth amble, 1 November 2020

Needing some exercise we enjoyed a good walk around the Halesworth area on Sunday. Doing several loops we discovered some completely new areas to us and some interesting habitats. It was also nice to 'find' remnants of the long defunct Southwold Railway and walk a section of the old track route.  

Surprisingly, the year just keeps on giving from a botanical angle and I saw 3 more new plants for my burgeoning list - Common Polypody Fern, Late Cotoneaster and Larustinus. Into the bargain there were also quite a few unusually late flowering plants - Wood Avens, Sweet Violet and Wild Clary! Butterflies aren't quite finished for the year either - a Red Admiral was seen

                                                                                                                         Common Polypody Fern
                                                                                                                                    Late Cotoneaster
                                                                                                                                   Wood Avens
                                                                                                                                      Sweet Violet
                                                                                                                                             Wild Clary

The Peak District and an unexpected rare plant, 22 - 25 October 2020

Belinda and I spent a most enjoyable 3 night stay in the Peak District this last weekend to celebrate her birthday. Staying in the small village of Over Haddon perched above Lathkilldale gave us walking on our doorstep which was ideal. 

On the Thursday we got up mega early at home and were in Derbyshire and walking by 09.15! Our walk was over Baslow Edge from Curbar and back via Birchen Edge. A nice piece of upland oak woodland gave me a couple of new fungi - Hoof Fungus on a birch trunk and at the base of the same tree Tawny Grisette. A lunch stop close to the Robin Hood Inn revealed Slimy Waxcap in the grass and plenty of Redwings and Fieldfares. Earlier, while navigating a tricky bit at the south end of Baslow Edge we disturbed a Merlin which literally whizzed right past my ear. I felt it before I saw it!

Friday saw us walking the length of Lathkilldale from our doorstep in Over Haddon. No fewer than 8 Dippers were seen including a male in song and displaying despite it being October plus 2-3 Grey Wagtails. A single Raven flew over at the Cales Dale junction and a couple of Nuthatches were rather vocal. In the upper part of the dale I then made the discovery of the weekend - a prominent blue/purple flower right beside the path. I was pretty sure I knew what it was, but could it be? Flowering in October? I was proved right, it was the rare Jacob's Ladder, a limestone specialist but one that should flower in June/July! Also in flower in the dale were Meadow Cranesbill and Monkeyflower.

Saturday was inclement but we did manage a walk from Over Haddon in the morning, the highlight being c400 Fieldfares and c50 Redwings in a single flock. We spent the wet afternoon in Buxton where feral Muscovy Ducks were obvious in the Pavillion Gardens. A Tawny Owl was calling in Over Haddon that night.

On Sunday we managed a nice walk in Cressbrook Dale and Tansley Dale before the drive home. A Sparrowhawk was the only sighting of note. 

                                                                                                                                           Hoof Fungus
                                                                                                                                     Tawny Grisette
                                                                                                                                   Slimy Waxcap

                                                                                                                                      Jacob's Ladder
                                                                                                                                   Meadow Cranesbill
                                                                                       photographing Jacob's Ladder, upper Lathkilldale

Wonderful Whitlingham, 20 October 2020

Whitlingham CP really comes into its own at this time of the year and the autumn colours there are superb. This afternoon trip, before the weather closes in, was specifically to see Yellow Shield fungi which James Emerson had kindly given me directions to. In the end I not only saw those but also found some of my own nearby and also saw plenty of others of interest. 

I bumped into Anne Crotty and her husband while in the picnic meadow area and she happened to mention a coral fungus that grows under leylandii near Whitlingham Farm Share. I hot-footed it there (I needed the walk too) and quickly found my first coral fungus - Green-staining Coral Fungus under said leylandii by the track.

Those 2 scarcities weren't the only fungus I saw - Grey Knight, Earpick Fungus, Purple Brittlegill, Shaggy Scalycap, Lilac Fibrecap, Horse Mushroom, Ugly Milkcap, Glistening Inkcap, Hare's Ear, Honey Fungus, Scurfy Twiglet, Purplepore Bracket and Purple Jellydisc were also found. 

An impromptu meet with Jus by the carpark for a catch up resulted in scope views of 2 Goldeneye and the resident dodgy Barnacle Goose whilst coffee and a scone went down well at the cafe just before they closed!

                                                                                                                                         Yellow Shield

                                                                                                                  Green-staining Coral Fungus
                                                                                                                                           Grey Knight
                                                                                                                                              Hare's Ear
                                                                                                                                           Honey Fungus
                                                                                                                                   Horse Mushroom
                                                                                                                                         Lilac Fibrecap
                                                                                                                                      Purple Jellydisc
                                                                                                                                Purplepore Bracket
                                                                                                                                        Scurfy Twiglet
                                                                                                                                     Shaggy Scalycap

                                                                                                                                     Purple Brittlegill