Norwich regulars, 27 January 2021

A flying visit to a couple of Norwich sites today whilst in the fine city doing chores and errands for my housebound parents. 

I parked by Wensum Park and walked through the park on my way to the city centre. Despite the usual drunks and drug buddies that inhabit the park I managed to see the wintering 2w Yellow-legged Gull straight away in the masses of gulls being fed. It's handy that most of them are Black-headed Gulls with just a few larger gulls making location of the bird easy.

Then, on the way out of the city I was passing within a couple of hundred yards so stopped in Hellesdon Road where 6 Ring-necked Parakeets were located high in the trees at the eastern end. Again, it was helpful that they were being quite vocal. These birds have now been in the area for 2 years. A pre-roost gathering of c25 Magpies was also there.     

Local, local, local!

The need to stay local at the moment is driving me round the bend but at least I have the garden and village paths for my exercise.

Within our garden we have a small number of mature trees. The largest by far is a massive Horse Chestnut that dominates the garden (and causes us so much work!). Second in size is a Cherry. With buds now appearing on both I decided to look more closely at them and their bark. Tree-hugging if you will but without the actual hugging! Underneath the chestnut our annual patch of Winter Aconites are now in full bloom and hinting at the botanical year ahead. A tree stump in our front garden has a nice patch of Turkeytail fungus on it and over the road opposite our drive is another patch on another stump which is a very dark blackish specimen.

Our bird feeders continue to be very disappointing this winter but in recent days 15 Greenfinches and c20 Goldfinches have been around locally in the trees opposite the house but never visit our feeders. A Mistle Thrush 2 days ago was 'Lockdown Apocolist' bird no.52 preceeded by c6 Fieldfares in a poplar over the road which were no.51. Both male and female Bullfinches have been seen too but not together. 

                                                                                                                                       Winter Aconite
                                                                                                                                       dark Turkeytail
                                                                                                                                Sweet Chestnut bud
                                                                                                                               Sweet Chestnut bark
                                                                                                                                            Cherry bud
                                                                                                                                         Cherry bark

Sri Lanka official trip report published.

My friend AbdulRahman Al-Sirhan has now published the 'official' trip report from our Sri Lanka adventure in December 2019. 

It can be found on his Birds of Kuwait website at

It features a wealth of photographs (taken by me, AbdulRahman and Graham Sorrie) taken on the trip and is well worth a look for anyone who is interested.


Smockmill Common, 23 January 2021

We took a walk around local Smockmill Common yesterday. It was an extremely gloomy and grey day but brightened up with a few lingering winter fungi.

Right at the start of the walk (having just realised there are 2 species of birch) I positively id'd a mature Downy Birch by finding the downy hairs on the twigs beside the developing buds. This becomes my first 'botanical' tick of 2021. Growing on it was some Birch Woodwart and further round I found Elder Whitewash, Split Porecrust, Cramp Balls and Turkeytail. A bracket fungi had some weird growths on its underside which James Emerson has kindly confirmed are Nipple Galls caused by a fly with the superb latin name of Agathomyia wankowiczii!

Birdwise Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker were calling.

                                                                                                                                       Birch Woodwart
                                                                                                       Cramp Balls (aka King Alfred's Cakes)
                                                                                                                                  Elder Whitewash
                                                                                                                                     Nipple Galls
                                                                                                                                    Split Porecrust

Mousehold Heath, Norwich, 9 January 2021

After running some errands for my parents we decided to combine it with a walk from their house up onto Mousehold Heath. It turned out to be a good long walk in the winter sun and it's always nice to re-visit boyhood haunts.

There wasn't a massive lot to write home about but 2 Bramblings in a flock of finches (Chaffinches and Goldfinches) near the pitch and putt and a calling Nuthatch were nice to see. On the walk back via Vinegar Pond I found a nice Hoof Fungus on a fallen birch log which was my first in the county. Yellow Brain, Silverleaf Fungus and Jelly Ear were also seen. 

                                                                                                                                          Hoof Fungus


Dickleburgh Moor, 7 January 2021

The extremely boring locked-down start to 2021 pretty much continued in a brief visit to local Dickleburgh Moor this afternoon.

The recent floods have turned the site into one massive lagoon but luckily the northern grassy access bund is dry. In a very cold 40 mins my counts were:

Marsh Harrier 1 (imm male), Common Buzzard 1, Gadwall 27, Tufted Duck 51, Wigeon 2, Teal c15, Little Grebe 1, Great Crested Grebe 1, Lapwing c70, Mistle Thrush 1, Fieldfare 1, Redwing c60

Other local birds since the turn of the year have been few and far between but have included Nuthatch, Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers.

The year can only get better - can't it?