Carlton Marshes, 30 December 2021

What was probably my last meaningful birding of the year was at Carlton Marshes today.

The Spratts Water area near Tower Hide has hosted Siberian Chiffchaff over the last couple of days so I wandered in that direction and joined Peter Ransome along the path. c150 Goldfinches en-route was the largest flock I've seen in years. Despite initially unpromising news 2 Siberian Chiffchaffs popped up together at the back of a reedy clearing in the willows. They showed a few more times over the next hour but remained elusive for long periods, often staying very low. Both looked like classic tristis with one bird showing a stronger supercilium. A Water Rail squealed a couple of times and 2 Common Buzzards flew over. I shunned the cafe on the way back as there was too much of a queue and instead concentrated on a flock of gulls by the level crossing on Burnt House Lane. Here amongst the flock of Herring Gulls and Greater Black-backed Gulls I found a 1w Caspian Gull which was a nice bonus.

                                                                                                                               Siberian Chiffchaffs
                                                                                                                                 Common Buzzard
                                                                                                                                    Caspian Gull

God's Acre at Christmas

Over the festive period I paid a couple of short visits to Earlham Cemetery in Norwich.

One particular corner of the site proved to be good for overwintering ladybirds and I managed to find quite a few. 95% of them were Harlequin Ladybirds in their numerous guises but I also found Orange Ladybird, Cream-spotted Ladybird, Ten-spot Ladybird, Seven-spot Ladybird and Pine Ladybird. They favoured the gravestones, particularly those that were cross-shaped, sheltering under the cross. Rooting about had it's other benefits too as I found Walnut Orb Spider, Green Cellar Slug, Canestrini's Harvestman, Hawthorn Shieldbug and a new fungus for me Wrinkled Club. The usual Jays were there and a flock of c25 Siskins around the treetops.

                                                                                                                              Harlequin Ladybirds
                                                                                                                                  Orange Ladybird
                                                                                                                                         Pine Ladybird                                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                               Seven-spot Ladybird
                                                                                                                                  Ten-spot Ladybird
                                                                                                                                   Green Cellar Slug
                                                                                                                          Canestrini's Harvestman
                                                                                                                                   Walnut Orb Spider

                                                                                                                                       Wrinkled Club
                                                                                                                             Cream Spot Ladybird


Waxham Beach, 21 December 2021

Another day that started with a dip - this time of Cattle Egrets at Martham. With Belinda working with a child in tow we headed to Waxham beach again. This time I had my camera and lens with me so managed to get some nice shots of the Grey Seals and a trio of Sanderling on the beach too. Wandering along to groyne 20 I was also chuffed to find the Purple Sandpiper again and with the right gear managed to get some nice pics of it. Before we headed home a quick drive along the coast road past Sea Palling revealed the wild swans again and I managed to pick out both Whooper Swans and Bewick's Swans but not get numbers as I only had bins with me.  

Fast forward to yesterday (22nd) and c25 Snow Buntings were at the extreme north end of Kessingland beach and on the long walk up I had c6 Reed Buntings, Sanderlings and large female Sparrowhawk.

                                                                                                                                   Purple Sandpiper


                                                                                                                                           Grey Seals
Whooper Swan

                                                                                                                                       Snow Buntings


Taiga Bean Geese at Buckenham - but for how much longer? 20 December 2021

Our flock of Taiga Bean Geese that traditionally winter in the Yare Valley has been dwindling in numbers for at least the last decade. This winter just 5 have turned up and with such low numbers you really have to wonder if this will be the last year they grace our marshes. 

In between various chores and Christmas deliveries I popped into Buckenham Marshes at around lunchtime to pay homage to them. With such low numbers locating them has gradually become more difficult and I was greeted by one other birder who hadn't been able to find them. Luckily I picked the small group up within about 10 minutes in the far left corner of the marsh not far from the railway line. Despite being probably a kilometer away they were readily id'd and I managed the dodgy record shot below. Other than a mass of Pink-footed Geese, Wigeon and Teal plus a Mistle Thrush there wasn't much else to delay me from getting on with my errands. 


Wortham Ling

Wortham Ling between Diss and Bressingham is a favourite walk of ours. Named after the masses of Ling Heather that grows there it is managed by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust. 

It is a place that never provides much excitement with it's birds but for flora and fungi it is excellent. On a recent walk there, despite it getting a little late in the season we found some nice fungi still hanging on. Most spectacular was a large floppy mass of Yellow Brain on Gorse but we also found a new one for me in the form of Oak Toothed Crust plus Moss Bell on the mossy grassland, Witches Butter, an Oysterling sp and an attractive Cortinarious sp (probably!)

                                                                                                                                    Yellow Brain
                                                                                                                                    Oak Toothed Crust
                                                                                                                                        Oysterling sp

                                                                                                                                    Witches Butter
                                                                                                                                    Cortinarius sp


A wintering Blackcap, 13 December 2021

I'd not seen a wintering Blackcap for some while so while up at Wiveton on Monday this female was very nice to see. Just a pity it was the first day of 'no-show' of the recent Barred Warbler there. That pretty much sums up my luck at the moment. Apart from a Grey Wagtail, Cetti's Warbler and the unusual sight of 6 Bullfinches flying over together at the same spot the day is one that's best forgotten.

A very close encounter with a massive stag Red Deer on the road between Holt and Cley had me braking sharply - it could have been a real mess!

I did pop into St Margaret's Church in Cley too - the recent Black Redstart was absent but even on my current run of form I couldn't really miss the White-crowned Sparrow stained glass window! A reminder of more productive times.


Mundesley and Waxham, 12 December 2021

On an exceptionally mild Sunday we headed over to the coast as Belinda wanted to see the recent big cliff fall at Mundesley. When we got to the spot north of the village it became very apparant that it had nearly taken a house with it when it went!

After a long walk to Trimmingham and back we opted to finish the day at Waxham. A quick look by the coast road by French's Farm revealed no Great Grey Shrike but 17 Bewick's Swans and 2 Whooper Swans were by the road near Ingham. A walk along the sea wall south of Waxham to see the Grey Seals as the sun set was really rather splendid and had the added attraction of a Purple Sandpiper on the beach near groyne 20. A single Fieldfare was in the hedge on the walk down.

                                                                                                                 Purple Sandpiper (phone shot!)

Last of the autumn colours

A week or so back I enjoyed a couple of nice walks - at Houghen Plantation and Horsford Woods and then closer to home at Weybread. 

With the dark, grey and dank days since it was clearly the last of the autumn colours. I had some fungi too, albeit in much smaller numbers due to the late date - Beech Woodwart, Splitgill, Purple Jellydisc, Yellowing Curtain Crust, Oak Bracket and Snowy Waxcap were probably the pick.

A flock of c50 Goldfinches and another of c80 Skylarks north of Weybread village were also noteworthy.

                                                                                                                                     Purple Jellydisc
                                                                                                                                   Beech Woodwart
                                                                                                                            Yellowing Curtain Crust
                                                                                                                                        Oak Bracket
                                                                                                                                     Snowy Waxcap