Aylmerton Nature Diary

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Sunday 17th June



Grey Heron examines the remains of a young Greylag, I think

It was later than usual when I set off to Felbrigg to do my June WeBS count. Given the general lack of wildfowl at the moment, I don’t think it mattered much though! A few Greylag –  the youngsters from earlier in the week appear to have succumbed to some prey or another, a dozen Mallard, one Tufted x Ferruginous hybrid, a few Moorhen and the family of Mute Swan was about it. I did see more woodland species, with several additions to my earlier IoRA survey – Treecreeper, Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker. On my way back home, an obliging juvenile Chiffchaff allowed close observation.

Good to see the first successful fledgling Chiffchaff of the year



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Thursday 14th June


Record shot of a rather unexpected pair of Shoveler – Felbrigg Lake, found on IoRA survey

I did my NENBC Index of Relative Abundance (IoRA), quarter 2, survey of Felbrigg Park this afternoon. A little late but worthwhile nonetheless. Thirty five species in total – most of it regular stuff but with a couple of surprises. A pair of Shoveler on the lake was unexpected, as was the Marsh Tit calling in the wood -they’re usually difficult to find at this time of the year, and an Oystercatcher over the sheep-pastures.


Wednesday 13th June


Family party of Mute Swan – Felbrigg Lake. No ‘Polish’ youngsters this year though

A day later than I’d originally intended but getting sorted after our long trip away has taken a little longer than expected. Anyway, back on ‘the patch’ at last. It was the tail-end of winter when I last walked around Felbrigg. Today it seemed like mid-summer. There was evidence of breeding wildlife practically everywhere. A pair of Red Kite over Felbrigg Lodge were, perhaps rather oddly engaged in display behaviour – indicating that they might be sub-adult or non-breeders. Once in the park proper three adult Egyptian Geese were chasing each other around the water meadow. No sign of any youngsters though. There were however three juveniles amongst the dozen Greylags. On the lake there was a family party of six Mute Swan, the two adults with four’ regular’ cygnets – no sign of any ‘Polish’ off-spring this year. The only other wildfowl were twelve Mallard, again all adult, three Moorhen and the two Tufted x Ferruginous hybrids. Over the lake there was a sub-adult Common Gull and a single House Martin. Chiffchaff and Blackcap were singing in the western shelter-belt. The best bird was, undoubtably, a Hobby, which put in a brief appearance over the water meadow. Butterfly interest was restricted to Red Admiral, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood and a single Painted Lady, whilst there were several Emperor dragonflies hawking over the lake, along with a probable Broad-bodied Chaser and a ‘swarm’ of Common Blue Damselfly.

A terrible record shot of Hobby between the water meadow and lake


and finally, the habitat destruction on Aylmerton Common is now complete!


It’s good to be back…

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Normal service resuming shortly


One of the very last birds we added to our GABRAT trip list was Red Knot, seen here (in summer plumage) with Grey Plover. There’s a sense of coming full circle with these birds – they occur regularly in Norfolk and both have been seen at Felbrigg!

Today we fly back from Seattle to England at the end of our Great American Birding RoAd Trip. In the two months we’ve been away we’ve driven over eight thousand miles, through seven States – from the Gulf of Mexico to Vancouver Island, following the birds on their northerly migration. For highlights of each days adventure please visit TrevorOnTour. By Tuesday I hope to be back on ‘the patch’, seeing what changes have occurred around the parish, Felbrigg and Sustead Common. Looking at the records on North East Norfolk Bird Club website it appears to have been a fairly quiet Spring / Summer so far and, thank goodness, I don’t appear to have missed anything particularly rare on ‘the patch’. I can’t wait to get looking…

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Break in transmission

There is going to be a temporary break in transmission on Aylmerton Nature Diary. Normal services will not be resumed until on or about 12th June. In the meantime you can find some alternative and, hopefully, interesting content on TrevorOnTour

Just to whet your appetite, here’s one of the more common species I hope to be featuring

Summer Tanager

Summer Tanager – Lost Maples, Texas State Natural Area, 2009

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Friday 13th April

IMG_4300First Willow Warbler in Felbrigg this morning – this species has become a scarce passage migrant in the park nowadays 

We’ve been cloaked in mist and drizzle since before the weekend but, despite the weather, Spring migrants are still managing to creep in. This morning I had my first singing Willow Warbler in Felbrigg – between the viewing screen and the dam. It was briefly joined by another phyllos, which may have been a second individual or, possibly, a territorial Chiffchaff. It was WeBS count day today (which I’m doing early), the highlights of which were three Little Grebe, two Tufted x Ferruginous hybrids in with the Tufteds and two Oystercatcher which landed on the water meadow. There were a couple of Swallow hawking over the lake and a noticeable ‘passage’ of Meadow Pipit – I counted at least 27 going through. There’s still a large mixed flock of Redwing (60), Starling and Fieldfare (5) between the lake and the Hall and a group of gulls on the sheep pastures, including 60 Common still, a few Herring and, interestingly, three Lesser Black-backed’s. A single Hawfinch was in the trees behind the stable block. The Roe Deer are getting bolder all the time, I watched four feeding this morning at close-quarters.

Roe Deer, nonchalantly feeding with it’s head through the barbed wire! 


Post Script: Simon took this photo of a superb a male Stonechat at Felbrigg today, it’s sporting a number of characteristics of rubicola – the mainland European race.


I did see the bird this morning – honest! but I was in a bit of a hurry to follow it up. Friday 13th, unlucky for some! Anyway, a nice Spring record Simon.

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Tuesday 10th April


Brambling, flushed from garden feeders, as I made my way down The Street

Highlight from Cley NWT yesterday, on an otherwise cold and damp day, included two Spoonbill, which flew east circling North Foreland Wood at mid-day, two adult Mediterranean Gull, barely visible through the morning mist, and a superb, near-summer plumaged Water Pipit, just outside Teal hide, mid-afternoon. This morning I walked through the park to a meeting at Spurrell’s Wood. As I reached the Oak trees, between the middle track to the lake and the Hall, there was a cacophony of sound rising out of the mist. As I looked, I could see a mixture of several hundred Starling, Redwing and Fieldfare, perched in the upper branches. I made my way towards the Stable Block and could see a lone bird sat atop a tree near the car park – it looked bigger in the mist than I was expecting but, nevertheless, it was a Hawfinch. As I scanned the trees behind the Hall I could see at least another four birds or so. Down at the lake I was struck by how few birds there were. Just a handful of Mallard, a few Moorhen, the pair of Mute Swan, seven Tufted – including one hybrid and, best of all, a pair of Little Grebe close to the edge of the reed-bed. Four Swallow were swooping over the water before heading off north east. On my way down the lane I flushed a handsome male Brambling from one of the garden feeders – there’s still plenty of these birds about, in isolated groups along the coastal belt.

Little Grebe, Felbrigg Lake – hopefully here to breed