Archive for the 'Fungi' Category

31
Dec
22

Happy New Year

Well, the end of 22 is just about upon us and 2023 is about to open its doors. It’s been a more relaxed year here on the North Norfolk coast with restrictions fading into memory and life returning to somewhat like normal.

Throughout 2022 there have been several low points. Leaving Scillies in October the day after the Blackburnian Warbler turned up was one. Visiting Manchester and seeing the amount of litter both in the city centre and surrounding countryside was another; seeing such disregard for the environment was not just disappointing, but stomach churning.

Thankfully there have been some outstanding high points; including several ‘firsts’ for me. Eleonora’s Falcon, Cape Gull, Glanville Fritillary and Late Spider Orchid being a few examples.

Episodes with Broomrape, Bee Eaters and Little Buntings were entertaining and far reaching.

Despite foreign travel being shunned by Tania and me until next year we’ve had a number of trips here at home and tours have been UK wide. Scotland appeared on the agenda four times with Dumfriesshire, Sutherland and the Spey Valley twice. Scillies was visited twice with Spring and Autumn breaks. There were also tours to Knepp in West Sussex and the East coast including the Farne Islands. A very successful trip to Cumbria was enjoyed for its butterflies and dragonflies. We had a personal trip to the Isle of Wight which was very productive. A short trip to Kent with Tania and Tony took some topping; the range of Orchids we found coupled with time watching an Eleonora’s Falcon would take some beating. By a hair’s breadth however my moment of the year was in October on the island of Tresco. The day I spent with Tania photographing a Swainson’s Thrush was for me just the biz!

It’s been a long time since I have seen this diminutive, subtly marked species, so well. Seeing American Thrushes in the Americas is wonderful. Seeing one in the UK is always a thrill; but actually spending an extended period of time with one at close range was just exhilarating.

We are both looking forward to the New Year and what it brings, and hope you are too. Happy New Year from us both.

05
Oct
22

The Eroding of Wildlife Protection within the UK

Like many others I was appalled at some of the press articles last week outlining changes the government were proposing. I was prompted to write the following letter to my MP Duncan Baker. Duncan has helped Tania and I out on a couple of occasions previously and has forced through decisions and prompted action which have helped us personally. His reply is also published below which makes for an interesting read.

————————————————

Dear Mr Baker,

You have helped me in the past and I am once again looking to you to help me again.

I am a Wildlife Tour operator based in your constituency in Norfolk. I am writing to express my concerns over recent government announcements that I believe, as do many environmental organisations, will significantly reverse the UK’s ambitions for nature recovery over the coming decade.

Our wild flora and fauna are in a perilous state, as a result of decades of agricultural intensification, increased development (houses, roads, railways, extractive industries) and more insidious threats such as air and water pollution, unsustainable land use practices in the uplands (over-grazing, burning, plantation forestry), the spread of invasive non-native species and, in recent decades, climate change.

The government’s plans to revoke hundreds of laws that protect wild places and standards for water quality, pollution and the use of pesticides will make matters worse, as will the implementation of new planning infrastructure which threatens to weaken vital protections for habitats and wildlife. I am also concerned that the proposed review of the long-awaited Environmental Land Management schemes – which would reward farmers for restoring nature, preventing pollution and climate-proofing their business – will lead to reduced ambition and consequently financial support for activities that help combat both the nature and climate crises.

As well as meeting hundreds of like minded people during my employment I also work for and am active as a trustee within several charities; most notably the Norfolk and Norwich Naturalists’ Society.  Through scientific surveys the Society is able to provide decision-makers (conservationists, land managers, policy-makers) and academics with the evidence they need to make sensible decisions about our county’s wildlife – without a healthy wild flora many species dependent on wild plants will suffer. The current trends for much of our flora and fauna amounts to nothing less than a doomsday prediction.

If we are to reverse these declines then we will need a government that is committed to protecting and enhancing our nation’s wildlife, not one that is prepared to relax laws that protect wildlife and remove funding of schemes that will help restore and recover what we have lost. I strongly recommend that the government sticks to its original commitments to reverse biodiversity loss and recover nature for future generations to enjoy.

You must recognise Duncan that the restoration of a thriving wildlife infrastructure within our county and country is paramount to the continuance of life as we know it for us all.

Please be a voice to act against the proposed changes.

Best regards

Carl Chapman

Wildlife Tours and Education

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Dear Carl, 

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about protecting the environment. I’m so sorry this is not a fully bespoke response. I have been so busy last week with final preparations for the London Marathon which I completed on Sunday, that I am just getting round to read all the emails I’ve received and provide a response.

It has been a real privilege to again raise well over £30,000 for 26 local charities and nearly £75,000 over two years for 40 different local charities from what all started as a hobby in lockdown. Once more I’ve been able to donate £1000 for each mile I completed and £5000 on mile 26 to help refugees in Norfolk still unable to return home. Indeed, today is the 6 month anniversary of the Ukrainian family arriving, Anna and Sviatik who are still happily living with my family.

As you likely know, protecting the environment, especially our wonderful wildlife and beautiful countryside here in North Norfolk, is incredibly important to me.

I want to entirely reassure your concerns. Claims that this government is rowing back on our commitments to farming reform or nature are wholly untrue. As you may be aware, I am a huge advocate for the environment. I currently sit on the Environmental Audit Select Committee and as such always champion the environment, as this is a matter that I feel incredibly strongly about.

The statement from DEFRA making this very clear is here:

https://deframedia.blog.gov.uk/2022/09/26/government-reiterates-commitment-to-environmental-protections/

I have brought forward many inquiries into embodied carbon for buildings, plastic pollution and the upkeep of biodiversity through my select committee work. In addition, no one in Parliament has done more to stop the trenching through our countryside from the cable corridors from the wind turbines. All in order to protect nature.
I have also discussed throughout the Environment Bill in 2021 the importance of putting the environment at the heart of the government’s decision making, with legally binding targets on biodiversity, air quality and waste efficiency.

It’s clear to me you also care deeply about the environment, and I note you raise several important topics in your email. I will happily discuss them with you and cover the questions you ask.

Firstly, to be absolutely clear, I do not want to see any backtracking on key environmental protections. We have made great progress over the past few years, as well as delivered ambitious commitments and targets. Rest assured I am determined we continue this trajectory and have seen nothing to date that makes me think we won’t.

I appreciate that you have concerns over the possible impact investment zones will have on the environment. However, I have to say, I see no immediate cause for unease. Investment zones will promote growth and unlock housing by lowering taxes and liberalising our planning frameworks to foster rapid development and investment across the UK. It is not an either/or in my mind – we can achieve growth without harming the environment – we will work towards both.

Secondly, regarding the Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS), I understand and appreciate your concern here. I also appreciate the Government is having to find a balance between some very big and complex issues – namely, boosting the environment, supporting farmers, and furthering domestic food security. As a result, I have heard the Government is reviewing our farming regulations and will comment on this in due course. We of course need food security whilst enabling our farmers continue to be custodians for our countryside. This is all the review appears to be.

Naturally, like you, I will be playing close attention, and will voice my views when appropriate. In the meantime, I will certainly endeavour to convey your strength of feeling and resolute support for ELMS to ministerial colleagues at DEFRA. I hope this can reassure you somewhat.

Thirdly, I certainly will do everything I can to protect and enhance nature at home. I hope my actions and commitments I’ve made thus far can reassure you of this. From sitting on the Environmental Audit Select Committee and the Net-Zero APPG, to working on legislation to increase biodiversity, I have consistently sought to create a better greener country. It is an essential part of my being MP for North Norfolk and will not stop.

COP15 will provide a fantastic opportunity to further not just a greener country but a greener world. I am therefore pleased to see the Government has already committed to playing a leading role in developing an ambitious post-2020 global biodiversity framework to be adopted at COP15 of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Rest assured, the UK will continue to push for global ambitious targets.

Many thanks again for taking the time to contact me. I do hope my response is useful and adequately answers your questions. Please don’t hesitate to let me know if I can clarify anything.

Yours sincerely,

Duncan Baker MP
Member of Parliament for North Norfolk

25
Dec
20

2020 – my best year yet.

I’ve been receiving cards over Christmas from family, friends, neighbours and customers and they all have had something in common. The wording has been different in each, but the sentiment has been the same … ‘better year in 2021’ … ‘hopeful for change’ … ‘can’t wait until restrictions eased’. You get the drift.

Well, Tania and I must have been on a different planet. We’ve had a great year.

We went on holiday to Florida, we got married, we’ve had the longest honeymoon in history and Tania got a visa to stay and work in the UK and got a Job in the middle of a pandemic. What’s to hate?

Sure, to be wrapped up in ourselves and completely insulated to the misery that is cruelly thwarting the world would be wrong. However, we have managed by careful and thoughtful practice to avoid crowds, be mindful of others and from day one wore gloves and masks when shopping and stayed at home when appropriate. These are OUR rules, not those of some twat in Westminster that can’t even comb his hair. We haven’t extended our liabilities up to the limits of recommendations. We’ve always worked within them. Long before Christmas restrictions my daughter and I decided that she wouldn’t join us this year. Because it was the sensible thing to do. Distance. Distance. Distance. If anyone decided otherwise then they are doomed to disappointment.

So, the best moment of 2020? There have been a few. I’ll cover some in a future post but one moment springs to mind where we shared an evening with a calling Barred Owl. Disappointingly it never did emerge from its hole in a large tree. We were within Mahogany Hammock in the Everglades. As darkness crept through the trees and shapes turned into imaginations a lightshow emerged. A million diamonds flashing in the dark. Fireflies, here there and everywhere. It was like being in a scene from Avatar. I was spellbound.

In reality, the best part of the year has to be spending so much time with Tani. I would guess you would think I have to say that, but to be honest who could not think the world of someone who takes with her a bit of grated cheese or muesli every morning. Just to feed the Robin that greets her in the dark on the platform of West Runton Station. A little Antipodean with a big heart.

Merry Christmas to one and all.

31
Dec
19

Goodbye 2019

Well, we’re nearly there. A new year. A new future. A new start.

As we stride forward over the threshold drinking our ‘cup of kindness’ it’s hard not  to look back. For Tania and I it has been a year of paperwork, patience and facetime. That’s now over. For good. 2020 will cement our future… together.

On the wildlife front 2019 was again full of sightings. The Bay of Biscay trip sits high on the list of favourites; how can a rare petrel and a cast of whales not be up there. Lots of highlights on the tours and day trips. Two trips to Australia were also up there. A place I’ve become to regard as my second home. However, the trip Tania and I did to the South coast of Victoria in July around Warrnambool sits atop the pile. Just the variety of birds, wildlife, locations and photo opportunities was just fantastic.

So what of 2020. Florida is on the agenda, the Forest of Dean. Oh! … and a Wedding! The round the UK mammal tour will run as will Central Scotland and the East Coast Seabird Tour. Cornwall, Scillies, and Cumbria are also all booked and will run. Whatever, 2020 brings it’s set to be exciting, different and interesting. I couldn’t ask anything more from life.

The photo is a Black shouldered Kite that we spend a pleasant evening photographing on Victoria’s south coast. Happy New Year!

06
Sep
19

New Tours

Upcoming Tours for 2019/2020


Sat 5th Oct 2019 Norfolk Coast Migration: A search of hotspots along the coast for migrant birds – meet in West Runton or on route £49
To book email carl@wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk



Sun 20th Oct 2019 Minsmere Migration: Migration will be well underway by October – meet in West Runton or on route £55 or £49 if meeting there. To book email carl@wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk


 


Sat 15th Feb 2020 Goshawk & other Breckland Specialities: Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Hawfinch and Woodlark among others – meet West Runton or on route £55 To book email carl@wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk



20th February to 24th February 2020 Southern Scotland Tour 5 Days visiting Lancashire and southern Scotland hot spots for winter birding. £698 More Details and booking instructions Here



13th to 15th March 2020 Norfolk’s Speciality Birds Long Weekend 3 Days visiting the Brecks, the North Norfolk coast and the Broads in search of all Norfolk’s speciality birds including Bittern, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Crossbill, Hawfinch, Lesser Spotted Wood Pecker, Woodlark etc Staying in a lovely Norfolk Hotel £466 More Details and booking instructions Here



Sat 21st Mar 2020 Minsmere Specialities: Dartford Warbler, early spring migrants, Black Redstart among others – meet in West Runton or on route £55 or £49 if meeting there To book email carl@wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk



16th to 20th April 2020 Scottish Birders Special Tour . A concentrated tour seeking birds unique to the Highland Region. £799 More Details and booking instructions Here


 


Sat 25th Apr 2020 Essex Birding Day: Abberton Reservoir and surrounding area for early spring and very late winter migrants £59 or £49 if meeting there To book email carl@wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk



Sat 2nd May 2020 Minsmere Migration: Bird migration will be well underway by the beginning of May – meet in West Runton or on route £59 or £55 if meeting there.To book email carl@wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk



8th to 14th May 2020 Birders Tour to Mull A 7 day day tour exploring the Isle of Mull off the Scottish West coast calling in at Yorkshire and Lancashire birding hotspots. £1680 More Details and booking instructions Here


 


Sun 24th May 2020 Hertfordshire Butterflies: In search of the Duke of Burgundy, Small Blue and Dingy Skipper butterflies – meet in West Runton or pick up enroute £65 To book email carl@wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk



27th May to 4th June 2020 UK Mammal Tour A 9 day tour covering the north of the British Isles searching out some infrequently seen mammals. Taking in Northumberland, East and Northern Scotland as well as the island off Mull £1867 More Details and booking instructions Here


Sat 6th Jun 2020 Badger Evening: An evening at a Badger Sett – No meal just hot drinks included – meet at a prearranged central Norfolk site £30 To book email carl@wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk


Sun 7th Jun 2020 Norfolk Orchids Photography Workshop: A day concentrating on photographing Norfolk’s beautiful rarer orchids – meet in West Runton £55 To book email carl@wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk


 

Mon 8th Jun 2020 Marsh Fritillary Day: A day trip to Lincolnshire to see one of our most beautiful butterflies – meet in West Runton or pick up en-route £59 To book email carl@wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk



12th to 14th June 2020 East Coast Seabird Weekend watching and photographing the seabirds of Yorkshire, the Farne Islands and Northumberland. £462 More Details and booking instructions Here


 

Sat 20th Jun 2020 Black Hairstreaks and Wood Whites: A day in Northamptonshire to see one of the UK’s rarest butterflies and others on the wing – meet in West Runton or pick-up on route £59 To book email carl@wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk


Sun 21st Jun 2020 Norfolk Hawker and Swallowtails: A day seeking out Norfolk’s two most iconic insects: meet in West Runton. £55
To book email carl@wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk


Sat 27th Jun 2020 Nightjar Evening: Meet in West Runton for an evening watching Woodcock and Nightjars £35
To book email carl@wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk


Sun 28th Jun 2020 Photographing Suffolk Orchids: A day concentrating on photographing Suffolk’s beautiful rarer orchids – meet in West Runton in Suffolk or on route £55 or £49 if meeting in Suffolk. To book email carl@wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk



2nd to 6th July 2020 Birds and Wildlife of the Jurassic Coast on the Isle of Purbeck and the Dorset coast looking at birds of heaths and cliffs as well as Dragonflies and butterflies. £998 More Details and booking instructions Here


Sat 11th Jul 2020 Large Blue Butterflies: A day trip to Gloucestershire to see the largest of British blue butterflies – meet at West Runton or on route £69 To book email carl@wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk


Sun 12th Jul 2020 Purple Emperors: A trip to Northamptonshire to see this most dazzling of British Butterflies – meet at West Runton or on route £59 To book email carl@wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk


Sat 18th Jul 2020 Norfolk Butterfly Day: A quest to see half of the UK’s butterfly species on just one day – meet in West Runton £55
To book email carl@wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk


Sat 1st August 2020 Norfolk Wader Day: A tour of the Norfolk coastline searching for waders returning south after breeding in the arctic – meet in West Runton £49 To book email carl@wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk


Sun 16th Aug 2020 Brown Hairstreak Day: A tour to Suffolk in search of the most elusive of butterflies: the Brown Hairstreak – meet in West Runton or pick up enroute £55 To book email carl@wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk


Sat 3rd and Sun 4th October 2020 Norfolk Migration Weekend: A weekend along the coast looking for migrants – meet in West Runton: one day £49 both days £90 To book email carl@wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk



8th to 16th October 2020 Bird Watching on the Isles of Scilly 8 days during searching for and watching migrating birds on the beautiful Isles of Scilly. £1749 More Details and booking instructions Here


Sat 17th Oct 2020 Minsmere Migration: Autumn bird migration will be at its peak meet in West Runton or on route £59 or £55 if meeting there.
To book email carl@wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk


 

Sat 31st Oct and Sun 1st November 2020 Norfolk Migration Weekend: A weekend along the coast looking for migrants – meet in West Runton: one day £49 both days £90 To book email carl@wildlifetoursandeducation.co.uk



7th & 8th November 2020 A Photographic Weekend in Wales:2 days in Wales Looking for the country’s special wildlife. Kites, Bottlenose Dolphins, leaping Salmon, Chough etc £289 More Details and booking instructions Here


 

13
Jul
19

Wildcatch Photography

Just a reminder that my photos are published on the ‘Wildcatch Photography’ site. The the ones from this year can be seen within the latest section at https://wildcatchphotography.zenfolio.com/p34814967

 

30
Dec
18

2018 – the best bits

2018 for me set off being a somewhat muted year but rapidly escalated into something as special as it gets. Finding someone special to share my life was a revelation that I didn’t expect. The downside of that is a whole planet separates us. 2019 will be spent putting that right.

One discovery for me in 2018 has been the state of Victoria in Australia. The pull of this part of such a remote continent has been extreme. It’s undulating landscape, amiable weather, compelling wildlife and of course one special inhabitant have made this the most special place I’ve ever been. Australia is just the best. My two months here within 2018 have been the most outstanding part of my personal year. Within that two months Tania has taken me to some fabulous places. Mountains, remote bushland, deep dark eucalypt forests, small islands and open wide beaches. However, one place stands out in my mind as it holds birds that have been a part of my life for so long in the UK. Rare birds. Birds that blew to the UK as waifs and strays. Birds such as Red necked Stints and Sharp tailed Sandpipers. In Victoria, Werribee has a water treatment plant holding these birds in mind boggling numbers. Numbers I could only have dreamed about. Who would have thought a sewage plant would have topped my years best bits… but it has. It even topped the Beluga in the Thames!

But what of my professional year. There have been some great times. Scilly once again was terrific, so was Wales, the Farnes were at their best and the Scottish tours were formidable. Picking the best? … well that’s easy. The 2018 Mammal Tour of the UK. Without doubt the best tour I’ve ever done. Some fabulous wildlife; Minke Whales and Dolphins of three species you could have touched. Red Squirrels, Pine Martens and Badgers at arms length. However, to single out one moment of the tour I would have to go to a small beach at the fishing port of Wick on the Scottish East coast. Reading books from being a child through to adulthood enables everyone to conjure up dreams. Bucket lists. Events to experience. Things to see, places to go. I crossed off number one on my own bucket list on that small beach last May. My guests and I experienced the sight of a Walrus in British waters. OK it’s not the cuddliest looking animal you’ll ever come across. But hell … what an animal!

Roll on 2019. Happy New Year.

07
Aug
17

Kelling Heath and the Chalk Reef

If you have visited North Norfolk to bird watch or you live locally you need to be aware of something. DONG Energy (a Danish Company) have given planning notice of an offshore windfarm development called the Hornsea Project Three.
 
In a nutshell the offshore 342 wind turbines, 19 or so offshore platforms,12 transformer substations and up to 3 accommodation platforms will be located 121km northeast of the Norfolk coast and 160km east of the Yorkshire coast. They will be connected to the shore by up to six undersea cables running in a south-westerly direction from the windfarm to the proposed landfall at Weybourne in North Norfolk via a possible booster station based out at sea. From here it is proposed the cables will be buried in up to 6 trenches, running in a south/south-westerly direction for approximately 55 km and will connect to the national grid between Swardeston and Stoke Holy Cross in South Norfolk. the development area will be up to 200m wide along it’s length.
 
The construction of booster stations along the route may also be required.
There will be construction of temporary haul roads and temporary access tracks, both alongside and separate from the cable route used for the purpose of enabling the underground works
Notice has been given of the required temporary stopping up, alteration or diversion of any street and the permanent and/or temporary compulsory acquisition of land.
A couple of maps are available here Hornsea Project Three_Onshore_Statutory_Consultation_Plan_July 2017 Hornsea Project Three_Project Overview_Phase 2_Statutory_Consultation_Pl.._ showing the seabed route which importantly bisects the offshore chalk reef and also the proposed alternative route across Kelling Heath.
 
Birds such as Dartford Warbler and Woodlark will probably be effected. Adders and butterflies such as Silver studded blue may also be effected. It’s up to you, me and the rest of us to object if we find these plans unacceptable. You have until 20th September to make representation to DONG Energy, by email to HornseaProjectThree@dongenergy.co.uk or by post to Hornsea Project Three offshore wind farm, DONG Energy, 5 Howick Place, London, SW1P 1WG.
I have been sent details in my capacity as an interested party using the county for wildlife tours for my comments.
 
My thoughts: The government has stated that by 2040 there will be a major move away from petrol and diesel vehicles to electric cars and are investing heavily in battery technology to make this happen. This is good. We have to move away from the use of fossil fuels to countermand global warming effects. Power supplies must be developed to enable this change. We have several choices; wind and wave electricity production are two of those choices. So love them or hate them windfarms are part of the resolution. However North Norfolk does not feel like the place development of this kind should take place. I feel we could use the area around Paston to land the cables thereby keeping the heavy industry within Norfolk contained in one place and make the transport of energy to the grid without cutting across an internationally important chalk reef and a nationally important heathland area.
13
Apr
17

Deadly

False Morels are a fungi that’s not often found in Norfolk but they did make an appearance a week or so ago. With their purple velvet convoluted surface they do look quite delicious … but they are deadly poisonous … avoid at all cost.

26
Mar
17

A New Species to Science

In 2000 when Jonathan Revett collected what he described as a ‘fleshy form of the Rayed Earthstar at Cockley Cley, Norfolk. He sent specimens to Kew and other places but was assured that it was a known variant.

 

It was only several years later that DNA analysis uncovered that Jonathan’s discovery was indeed a new species; and so Geastrum britannicum was named. So far it has no common English name. Since the initial discovery several other sites throughout the UK and in particular Norfolk have come to light.




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