10 (mostly Norfolkian) nature highlights of 2014

My 10 species highlights of 2014


1 - Winter Stalkball (Tulostoma brumale) – This fungus looks rather like a bleached rabbit dropping on a stalk, so what’s not to like? After getting some directions from Rob Smith I saw lots of these at Holme Dunes, and then went back in October when Rob showed me the closely related Scaly Stalkball (Tulostoma melanocyclum).

Winter Stalkball

2 - Natterer’s Bat (Myotis natterei) – Myotis bats can be difficult to identify using a heterodyne bat detector, so despite this species being fairly common I had never conclusively identified one. In February I went along to a bat roost check with Norwich Bat Group, where I not only saw Natterer’s Bat close up but also was able to compare it to Daubenton’s Bat (and add the word ‘tragus’ to my vocabulary!).

3 - Snake’s-head Fritillary (Fritillaria meleagra) – These had been on my list as a child by virtue of some that grew in our lawn, but in later life I realised these must have been planted. Twenty or so years on and I went to an open day at Fox Fritillary Meadow in Suffolk where there were thousands, including white ones and double-headed flowers.

Snakeshead Fritillaries

4 - Bottle-nosed Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) – Dolphins are scarce around Norfolk, so the chance to see these close in to shore off New Quay was a real highlight.

Bottle-nosed Dolphin

5 - Gloeophyllum abietinum (a bracket fungus) – The first Bioblitz to be held  at my local patch, Whitlingham C.P. was at risk of being a bit of a wash out due to heavy rain, but of the few fungi we found one of them turned out to be Gloeophyllum abietinum, not only new to Norfolk but only the 4th British record!

Gloeophyllum abietinum

6 - Sharp-leaved Fluellen (Kickxia elatine) – When a local ecologist found this arable plant alongside a footpath I went for a walk across some sun-baked fields to look for it. I walked past it several times before I knew how small the flowers were!

Sharp-leaved Fluellen

7 - Great Green Bush Cricket (Tettigonia viridissima) - Until this year I had never seen Great Green Bush Cricket, but I had heard some at Reedham in Norfolk, making their loud almost machine gun-like stridulations. This time I returned with extra patience, and having located one and stared at a bramble for a while, I eventually got excellent views.

Great Green Bush Cricket

8 - Wrinkled Peach Fungus (Rhodotus palmatus) - This distinctive looking fungus was something I’d never managed to find, but luckily after a fungus foray at Trowse near Norwich one of the participants found some on her way home. She kindly gave me directions and I popped back the next week to have a look.

Wrinkled Peach

9 - Steppe Grey Shrike (Lanus meridionalis pallidirostris) - This bird ticked a number of boxes for inclusion on my highlights of 2014 list, including being an interesting bird, getting excellent views and it being the first Norfolk record. It also sparked off ‘Volegate’, where a photographer climbed into a field and nailed a dead vole to a post to get some better photos, sparking a debate about baiting vagrant birds.

Steppe Grey Shrike

10 - Merveille de Jour (Griposia aprilina) - Despite being a common moth I had never seen a Merveille de Jour, as my local moth trapping efforts never seem to attract many moths after September. Luckily I moaned about this at regular intervals until a friend took pity and invited me round to see one he had just caught.

Merveille de Jour

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