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Broadland Country Park, 17 November 2021

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This local Honeyguide event was a return to Broadland Country Park, between Horsford and Felthorpe – we also had a small group here in September – as this splendid mix of heath and woodland remains new to many people. It was too late in the year for many flowers; a few herb Roberts, gorse (low and unscented, so probably western gorse) and some last-lingering blooms of bell heather. So it was mostly a chance to see how our fungi knowledge was developing, or being retained, not least from the recent Foxley Wood walk, which all of us were on. Clouded funnel. The start was immediately challenging: a large white fungus, high on a dead tree … more of that later. That was followed by a patch of clouded funnels, which we did know, and several strange white masses. At the time our best guess was a slime mould species, but having shown photos to James Emerson, they were powderpuff bracket ( Postia ptychogaster ). This species isn’t in Sterry & Hughes, the field guide I use. Powderpuff br

A November afternoon at Hickling Broad

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A November afternoon at Hickling Broad, 8 November 2021. Guest blog by Honeyguider Geoff Morries. Chris was waiting for us as Jane and I arrived at NWT Hickling just after midday. The visitor centre was closed but appeared to have been left in the charge of a peacock which dutifully strutted up and down outside the locked doors. From the picnic area, we watched a great spotted woodpecker as it made its way to the top of a nearby tree. Almost immediately, we started seeing common darter dragonflies – in flight and at rest on wooden fence rails that had warmed up appreciably in the November sunshine – and they continued to be a feature of our walk for much of the afternoon. One even landed on Jane's shoulder. Common darter, Hickling. Much more unusual, at least for Jane and me, was another member of the Odonata – the willow emerald damselfly Chalcolestes viridis . Along with a closely related species, this damselfly is unique among European Odonata in that it lays its eggs on tree br

Buckenham Marshes with Geoff Crane, 14 November 2021

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Geoff Crane is the man behind Crane's Cape Tours & Travel , both our local leader and ground agent for Honeyguide in South Africa. Flights recently restarted between South Africa and the UK, and Geoff was here visiting family. He also took time to come to Norwich, staying at Oaklands Hotel (which Honeyguide uses for  Norfolk breaks , in and near the Norfolk Broads). Geoff's visit coincided with Malcolm Crowder's birthday, so that gave two good reasons to organise a gathering of Honeyguiders for a celebratory meal. A grey and damp Saturday afternoon at NWT Thorpe Marshes wasn't the best way to showcase November wildlife, so on the Sunday morning seven of us went to Buckenham Marshes, part of the RSPB's Mid Yare nature reserves.  The Buckenham Marshes area is known for its huge roost of rooks and jackdaws, and during the day it remains a  good place for rooks. Seeing them with an overseas visitor was a reminder of how we all have to learn the difference between r

Foxley Wood guided walk, 5 November 2021

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An autumn outing to Foxley Wood Norfolk Wildlife Trust nature reserve was with fungi in mind, though like any Honeyguide group, eight of us today, we looked at all kinds of wildlife. Two marsh tits and a calling nuthatch were bird highlights, and a flock of redwings flew over the car park as the last of the group finished their sandwiches. A few late lingering flowers included red campion and black knapweed; red admiral and an unidentified hawker were the most obvious late insects.   We also found evidence of a rare invertebrate: more of that later. The wood was nicely busy this sunny morning. A work party was assembling and moving tools at much the same time as the Honeyguiders arrived, and later we saw them spreading cuttings from woodland rides onto a field that is extending the nature reserve. One of NWT's fundraising team was escorting some people around, and I was able to tell Kate that today's walk included a contribution to NWT - we sent £75. There was no fungi ex

Broadland Country Park and Buxton Heath, 23 September 2021

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There were just three of us on today’s Honeyguide outing, but what a perfect day it was as we arrived at the very new Broadland Country Park – announced in just March this year – between Horsford and Felthorpe. We started by looking over the heathland by the new picnic benches, which was colourful with heather, bell heather and western gorse. We didn’t go onto the heath as it’s fenced for grazing, part of the conservation management of the site. We took an anti-clockwise circuit around the country park, past another area also fenced for grazing and with sheep on view. We also heard cattle somewhere, but we didn’t see them. Dock bug (left) and spiked shieldbug (right). Garden or cross spider. Like a hot cross bun with legs, says Tessa. To start with we looked at the ID of various wild flowers, then swiftly switched to bugs on finding the two species in the photographs, names added after looking them up later. And we found a grey dagger moth caterpillar.  We moved into a large area of

Snettisham and Dersingham, 13 September 2021

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We arrived at Snettisham an hour before high tide and parked up on the sea bank overlooking The Wash. The tide was coming in quickly  –   T he Wash has the greatest tidal range of any east coast estuary at 6.5m during spring tides  –   and there was a constant movement of wading birds in front of us as the mudflats were covered by the incoming tide. Swirling waders, Snettisham. There was a large flock of oystercatchers out on the mudflats and several small groups of redshanks flew over our heads to roost on the islands in the lagoons - the flooded remains of old gravel workings. Although the high tide wasn’t high enough to fully cover the the mudflats, we still enjoyed the spectacle of swirling flocks of knots.  Swirling waders, again. More swirling waders. There were also some large mixed floc ks of waders closer to us on the mudflats and we were able to pick out dunlin, sanderling, knot, ringed plover, grey plover and bar-tailed godwit. A mixed flock of common and Sandwich terns sat