Earlham Cemetery Fungal Frenzy! 29 December 2020

Just when I thought the year was over!

Another visit to one of my favourite places armed with some directions and more time to explore properly. The cemetery really is a fantastic place to unwind and has a unique feel to it. And it's also a great place to see fungi, even at this late stage of the year. 

Yesterday I caught up with Hairy Earthtongue, Butter Waxcap, Meadow Coral and Eyelash Fungus all of which were new to me. Into the bargain I also re-visited the Yew Club spot and this time found c12. The Plain Earthtongues were also still present and my first flowering Snowdrop of the season was seen on a long walk around.

                                                                                                                                       Butter Waxcap
                                                                                                                                     Eyelash Fungus

                                                                                                                               Hairy Earthtongues

                                                                                                                                       Meadow Coral
                                                                                                                                              Yew Club


A Rare Fungi at the fag end of 2020

2020 won't be a year many of us remember with any fondness so the term 'fag end' seems entirely fitting! With tier 4 restrictions having been imposed since Boxing Day getting out and about is limited once again. Although I am one to use my own judgement based on common sense. 

I have elderly and vulnerable parents living in Norwich so out of necessity have to travel there to do various things for them as they are housebound. Yesterday I was able to combine this with a visit to Earlham Cemetery where Ian Senior had kindly offered to pop out and show me a rare fungi. And he was good to his word, meeting me (socially distanced) and taking me to the spot where I quickly laid eyes on the diminutive Yew Club. This is a red data species listed as rare and vulnerable with Earlham Cemetery  being the only known site in Norfolk. I found just 2! Very close by a small group of earthtongues proved to be Plain Earthtongue which was another new species for me. A lovely Snowy Waxcap on our front lawn at home made it a trio of mycological ticks! Recent walks have also yielded Yellow Brain, Crystal Brain, Slimy Waxcap, Jelly Ear and Velvet Shank

Local early wildflowers have included very early Primroses in bloom on Christmas Day plus rather more seasonal Winter Helliotrope and some naturalised Himalayan Honeysuckle.

The best birds in the last few days around our local paths have been c120 Fieldfares, a scattering of Redwings, 3 Bullfinches, Sparrowhawk and an early drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker.

                                                                                                                                              Yew Club
                                                                                                                                 Plain Earthtongue
                                                                                                                                    Snowy Waxcap
                                                                                                                                         Yellow Brain
                                                                                                                                         Velvet Shank

Winterton area, 20 December 2020

With exercise and fresh air much needed we did a long circular walk from Winterton village today. Taking in the beach, dunes, holmes and back via Somerton.

Belinda was busying herself with the Grey Seals while I hunted down the 2 Iceland Gulls and eventually found both in the area between groynes 52 & 54. There were also pleasingly large numbesr of 200+ Sanderling scattered all along the beach. Cutting inland at the concrete blocks we walked the farm tracks over Winterton Holmes. A surprise was in store when we flushed 2 Lapland Buntings from beside the track. Calling, they flew directly towards the low sun and I lost them.

After our walk we made a short drive to Sea Palling where the mixed flock of c20 each of Bewick's Swans and Whooper Swans were found easily beside the coast road after initially only seeing c6 Bewick's at the spot broadcast on RBA. A couple of flocks of Pink-footed Geese were also seen.       

Yellow-legged Gull in central Norwich, 17 December 2020

A 2w Yellow-legged Gull has set up residence in Wensum Park in central Norwich and with a little time to get there today I whizzed along. It was conveniently present on arrival down by the river and proved rather confiding allowing me to take some educational photos. A short walk nearby revealed 2 Little Grebes on the river plus a Jay but little else. I quit before the local druggies took a shine to my camera!

On my way back I just had enough time for a short walk around Earlham Cemetry to make the most of the nice weather. Here I scored with a vocal Nuthatch, a wintering Chiffchaff plus several Redwings, Stock Dove and plenty of Goldcrests.

                                                                                                                                Yellow-legged Gull


A Wild Goose Chase in Coastal Suffolk, 16 December 2020

There were a couple of goose flocks I had been wanting to see lately and with a bit of spare time yesterday was the ideal opportunity.

A flock of 25 Tundra Bean Geese in a winter wheat field by the A12 at Wenhaston is the biggest flock I've seen of the species and despite a noisy walk along the A12 verge from the nearest lay-by I got some great views. They had a couple of fly arounds too and on the second ocassion I watched them disappear high to the north. Good timing! They were later relocated at Southwold. A few Fieldfares were the only other items of interest so I move south to flock no.2

This was a flock of c150 Russian White-fronted Geese at North Warren. Along the 'middle path' a Great White Egret did a nice fly-by and I got to the flock of White-fronts just in time for some pics before they were flushed by a farmer! They didn't fly far luckily. Also there were c200 Barnacle Geese and a few Canada Geese and Greylag Geese for the 'set'. 2 drake Pintail and loads of Wigeon were also there.

With plenty of time to spare I moved further south again to Upper Hollesley Common. Despite 2 hours of diligent scanning and searching I dipped the wintering Great Grey Shrike. On my walks I did find 3 Dartford Warblers, 4 Stonechats, Green Woodpecker, Crossbill and a very highly coloured Blusher fungi however.

                                                                                                                              Tundra Bean Geese
                                                                                                                                  Great White Egret
                                                                                                                Russian White-fronted Geese
                                                                                      Barnacle Geese and Russian White-fronted Geese

An appointment with Moby Dick! 6 December 2020

Despite it being rather morbid Belinda and I were both keen to see the dead Sperm Whale that has sadly been washed up on the beach between Weybourne and Kelling.

Thick fog early on hampered things and we were even told by a family that the whale had been washed back out to sea because they couldn't find it! How they couldn't find a 40 foot specimen is beyond me but the fog soon cleared and we were able to witness the sad but fascinating sight of this magnificent creature. Offshore there were a flock of c40 Common Scoter and more importantly 2 Velvet Scoter were amongst them. The lingering Iceland Gull was also still present and seen at distance through Pete Balmer's scope!

Next we drove round to Cley beach road where I eventually found the Black Brant in the Brent Goose flock in the Eye Field. As it was just around the corner it would have been rude not to call in for the long-staying juv Lesser Yellowlegs in it's favourite flooded meadow in Wiveton. The fog was closing in once more but luckily I was able to fall (literally!) through a thick hedge to get some close views and even a couple of shots in the murk. 

                                                                                                                                               Black Brant

                                                                                                                                     Lesser Yellowlegs



Covehithe and Southwold, 5 December 2020

The day began at Southwold boating lake with a dip of the female Scaup that had been there for a couple of days. We followed that up with a less than inspiring and very muddy walk around the north side of Easton Marshes and along Buss Creek. A calling Bearded Tit was literally the only item of interest so we called it quits and after a quick lunch decided to head for Covehithe.

Luckily things got much better with both a drake Scaup and Long-tailed Duck showing nicely on Covehithe Broad together with 3 Goldeneye, 1 Little Grebe and 6 Gadwall. The field behind the broad held the big feral flock of c400 Barnacle Geese and in their midst was a Barnacle x Canada Goose hybrid. The reedy area to the north of the broad held Bearded Tit and a female Stonechat

Back in Southwold I looked in vain for White-fronted Geese but in doing so scored with a Water Pipit on Town Marsh and a Chiffchaff in reeds and brambles near the pontoon bridge.

                                                                                                                                   Long-tailed Duck
                                                                     Barnacle Geese and Barnacle x Canada hybrid in foreground


Winterton & Lakenham, 1 December 2020

With the weather finally having brightened up I spent a little while on Winterton beach this morning. As hoped for the 2 Iceland Gulls were still present amongst the seals. The dark individual was one I wanted to take a close look at a luckily it was the one that hung around and showed better. I'm no gull expert but the combination of dark in the primaries, a darker tail band, virtually all dark bill and coursely-marked plumage all indicate a Kumlien's Gull. Getting close was problematic as I didn't want to cause any disturbance to the seals and their pups. Also on the beach were 7 Snow Buntings, a smattering of Sanderling, several brutish Great Black-backed Gulls and of course loads of Grey Seals with young.

On the way back loads of Pink-footed Geese were by the road at Billockby but my lack of a scope means I didn't bother scanning them.

Back in Norwich I walked the whole length of Lakenham Way checking all the bridges eventually finding loads of Wall Rue plants near the top of the Hall Road bridge. Another botanical new one for me.

                                                                                                                       presumed Kumlien's Gull

                                                                                                                                             Grey Seals

                                                                                                                                            Wall Rue

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