A very early start this morning and off to Norwich to pick up James Emerson and back to Stow Bedon and Thompson for some local birding and a valuable introduction for myself from James on Fungi.
James is a young Norwich birder whose patch includes Whitlingham Country Park, an area which he has very much put on the birding map, evidence of this will clearly be seen in his excellent blog entitled 'Birds and Beer'.
STOW BEDON and THOMPSON: Arriving at Stow Bedon for about 0615, we first stopped along Mere Road to check out a large muck heap where Green Sandpipers are frequently seen, however, none were visible today. Off to the Great Eastern Pingo trail next where our route would take in Thompson Common, Thompson Water, the Peddars Way footpath, Hockham Fen, and Cranberry Rough.
We encountered good numbers of Chiffchaffs along the route but but were surprised at not finding a single Blackcap, a species which should be present in good numbers by now.
Walking along Butters Hall Lane, Thompson, James found my first local Swallow of the year flying around a barn. A bit further on a pair of Pied Wagtails were seen on one of the paddocks where the male bird was seen collecting nesting material.
Given the available habitat, a search for displaying Snipe proved fruitless.
Thompson Carr typically held several Marsh Tits and 'drumming' Great Spotted Woodpeckers, and a small party of Siskins were disturbed by a stream where they were probably drinking. The dense inderstorey in Thompson Carr holds impressive stands of Holly specimens, it was under one particular clump that a calling male Golden Pheasant was heard, despite waiting and looking, this bird failed to show.
Other typical woodland species seen in Thompson Carr included a number of Treecreepers, singing Goldcrests, and Nuthatches.
THOMPSON WATER: Surprisingly, no Hirundine species were seen at Thompson Water, the only summer migrant once again being singing Chiffchaff. A Cetti's Warbler occasionally gave a burst of its explosive song - a powerful voice given the small size of this species.
A pair of Great Crested Grebes, a few Teal, a pair of Gadwall, Coot,and a overhead Sparrowhawk were all seen.
The walk south from Thompson Water along the Peddars Way produced a small number of Redwings in hedges and a male Blackbird in a paddock.
HOCKHAM FEN/CRANBERRY ROUGH: The approach to these sites took us along an old railway cutting where we searched for Adders, however, none were seen. Hockham Fen appeared quiet and once again, an expected species, Snipe, did not show.
The swampy woodland habitat at Cranberry Rough appeared quiet, however, attention to the ground revealed in footprints, showed that Red Deer had passed this way earlier.
Back at the car as we preparing to leave, a single House Martin was overflying a field close to the Pingo trail.
FUNGI: James's knowledge of Fungi was very impressive and he picked out specimens which I would have just walked by without seeing. I must apologise to James for not remembering all of the names of those Fungi species seen, however, the ones which stood out for me was Witches Broom (found in Silver Birches), and the very beautiful Scarlet Elf Cup. I shall certainly gaive Fungi much more attention in future following James's 'in the field' tutorial.
Although the expected species failed to materialise, I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed James's company - thank you James.
LITTLE CRESSINGHAM (Fairstead Lane and Green Lane).
This handsome male Wheatear was found in a field adjacent to Fairstead Lane and constitutes my first record of this species for this year.
This long-distance migrant breeds in small numbers within Breckland, however, most will be passage birds feeding and resting before continuing their migration to either the uplands of Britain, or Europe, to breed.
The name of this bird, Wheatear, is the modern derivation of an old word meaning 'white arse', this being due to the bright white rump which is usually seen as the bird flies away.
The only other bird of note this afternoon was a singing Chiffchaff along green Lane.