Aylmerton Nature Diary

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Saturday 29th November

Saturday morning and it’s a scorcher – well it is in Goa anyway! Meanwhile I gather it’s not been so warm and there doesn’t appear to me too much I’m missing in the way of parish wildlife. Lee kindly sent me this photo to remind me of home!


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Part of the flock of c2000 Pink-feet, Aylmerton, 20th November

Took a long walk around the parish this morning – my last for some time. Several Goldcrest in a garden Leylandii, on my way down The Street. Plenty of woodland birds in evidence in the park – Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Stockdove and Jays. Most of the ‘dabbling ducks’ for some reason had moved from the Lake up to the water meadow. Two Egyptian Geese were also present and another pair were flying around by the house. On Felbrigg Lake itself, three Tufted Duck, six Gadwall and the pair of Goldeneye. In the rough grazing below the dam I flushed half a dozen Snipe as I walked through. Several Marsh Tit were in their usual spot behind Keeper’s Cottage. As I walked up towards the cross I heard a Yellowhammer in one of the roadside trees but I quickly became distracted by the distinctive noise of Pink-feet Geese – hundreds appearing to land somewhere to the west of the church. I walked up Mill Lane and across the fields, noticing that virtually all the hedges in this part of the parish have been severely trimmed – losing most of their berries in the process! By this time the noise of the geese was near deafening, as they continued to arrive in their hundreds to feed in the recently harvested beet field, north of the Loke. A quick scan with my binoculars and I estimated there must be something between 1500 and 2000 birds! I also spotted a single Barnacle Goose in amongst them. I decided to return home to collect my telescope and go through the flock properly – you never know what else you might find in these big flocks. As it happened an hour of systematic scanning failed to produce anything other than the already located Barnacle and a semi-albino Pink Foot. Oh well, still nice to see and hear so many geese actually feeding in the parish rather than just flying over.

More Pink-feet arriving


Sadly, the only other species present in the flock was a solitary Barnacle Goose – a good candidate for a genuinely wild bird

IMG_9229 DSC09946

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Tuesday 18th November


Water Rail, taken in January 2014, Felbrigg Park

Had a good walk round the park this afternoon, despite the rather gloomy weather. On the way down the lane the Barn Owl was busy hunting over the rough pasture field – saw ‘her’ catch and devour a mouse. In the park a Common Buzzard was being harassed by Crows, the Egyptian Geese were making a racket near the house and there was a surprisingly obliging Water Rail, feeding out in the open at the top pond. Wildfowl numbers are increasing – there were 28 Teal on the water meadows and 13 Gadwall, a pair of Goldeneye, male Tufted Duck, as well as the usual stuff, on the Lake. Coot numbers have doubled to two! IMG_9214 Male Goldeneye, amongst growing numbers of wildfowl, on Felbrigg Lake, 18th November

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Saturday 15th November

Took a long stroll around the parish this morning, with four friends. Saw 51 species in just over two hours – nothing particularly unusual but the female Goldeneye was still on the lake along with seven Gadwall and 13 Teal. Three Roe Deer were grazing in the last field before the village. There were plenty of the commoner species all over.

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Thursday 13th November


Female Goldeneye, ‘Brown Head’, with Tufted Duck, Felbrigg Lake, 13th November 2014

Managed to get out late afternoon for a walk around the Lake, up to the Cross, along Mill Lane then back down the Loke, before it got dark. I was particularly pleased to see a Goldeneye on Felbrigg Lake, albeit a female – not the male reported by Lee a couple of days ago. Also five Gadwall and a pair of Tufted Duck. On my way home I saw the Short-eared Owl again, hunting along the hedges of the field opposite Running Free Farm. Present for it’s third day at least.

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Barn Owl makes the set!


Barn Owl, Aylmerton, 12th November 2014

Yesterday, whilst trying to re-locate the Short-eared Owl for Tim & Dawn, we heard a Tawny Owl calling somewhere down in the village. In the morning I’d disturbed a Little Owl along the path to Felbrigg Lake. So this morning I set off to find Barn Owl to make it four owl species in 24 hours! I had intended to go into the park to watch the water meadows – a favourite hunting ground for Barn Owl but, just as I got to the back gate, my eye was caught by a small white object near the hedge of the rough grazing field opposite. I lifted my binoculars and sure enough it was a Barn Owl enjoying a last meal of a mouse before retiring for the day. Gradually I was able to get closer to it until it was a ‘frame filler’! Just a pity the early morning light was rather dim.

On my way back I took a quick detour up The Close to see if the Short-eared was still about and surprisingly it was. I watched it briefly come across the field from the Holt direction and drop down out of view below the line of the beet field. Despite searching it couldn’t be relocated.

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Short-eared Owl


Short-eared Owl, Aylmerton, 11 November 2014

The bird information services this afternoon were tracking a Common Crane as it flew along the coast. By the time it was reported flying east of Cley I decided that I’d better go¬†and stand on the concrete pad, just west of the village, in the vague hope of seeing it fly along the Cromer Ridge – I still need it for a ‘parish tick’. I’d been there about fifteen minutes when I became aware of a large brown shape gliding down the beet field towards the houses on Church Road. Despite the half-light, I recognised it as a Long/Short-eared Owl. It followed the hedge line towards the church and was lost to view in the oaks at the back of the pond. I later saw it work it’s way up the far hedge, parallel to the main road, where I lost it again. Ten minutes later it repeated the manoeuvre but this time turned right, over the Loke and across the field opposite Running Free Farm. It was only when I got home and looked at the couple of photos I managed to get in the failing light that I could confirm the identification of Short-eared Owl – albeit to my eye, a rather dark looking bird. A completely unexpected bird and a ‘parish tick’!

Several more fuzzy shots taken in the half-light