Aylmerton Nature Diary

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Tuesday 24th February

Took a break from building my fruit cage at the allotment this afternoon and managed the last couple of hours of daylight in the park. The Linnet flock, c. 30 birds, was down the lane. Nothing showing along the shelter belt but six Mute Swan on the water meadow and a few Teal. Met Lee who told me he’d had a flock of eighteen Redwing between the Hall and the lake. A couple of Marsh Tit were hanging about by the screen but no sign of any Siskin. Walked up through Common Plantation – nothing of note but a single Roe Deer. Walked down through the rough grazing and flushed a Snipe. The Buzzard was over towards Metton road and a Woodcock was near Metton Carr. On the lake Tufted Duck numbers have increased to 46 but Gadwall numbers seemed still to be reducing. The pair of Shoveler are still present. Still surprisingly light at five thirty, with a lovely sunset.

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Saturday 21st February


Reed Bunting, winter – Felbrigg Park

Managed to get out early morning, before the weather went off the boil. Plenty of activity down the lane including a small flock of seven Greenfinch in the old oak and a female Bullfinch near the NT Estates yard. The regular Buzzard flew up into the trees as I entered the back gate. Water levels remain very high on the water meadow but at least there were plenty of duck using it for a change – Mallard, Teal and Gadwall were all present, along with Moorhen and a single Snipe. There were also plenty of wildfowl on the lake – all the usual stuff, including the recently arrived pair of Shoveler and an increased number of Mute Swan – there are now eighteen. Around the lake Great Spotted Woodpecker were drumming and chasing each other, the small flock of Siskin were feeding in the Alders and Nuthatch and Marsh Tit were hanging around by the screen. There was a single Woodcock in Common Plantation and another Buzzard near the Metton road. A Reed Bunting – first I’ve seen for weeks, and a couple more Snipe in the rough grazing was about the lot for the park. Mammal interest included a Muntjac, which I disturbed in the woods – it then did a complete circuit of the fields before re-entering the woods and a Hare in the rough grazing field.

Common Buzzard, near the Metton road


Fleeing Muntjac – it’s long white under-tail just visible. Rather like a fat-bellied fox.


Mute Swan over the water meadows


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First NENBC Mid-Week Walk


Father of ‘polish’ young – now sadly deceased

Yesterday was the first of our regular NENBC mid-week walks around Felbrigg Park. 18 participants gathered at the Sexton’s Lodge car park for a leisurely two hour bird walk through the woods and around the lake. These walks, which are aimed at all levels of experience, are a good way to get to know other local birders, share knowledge and become familiar with one of the more varied inland birding sites in the club’s recording area. Typically, for late winter, the birding interest came in fits and starts. There were few birds in the first woodland stretch but we did manage to connect with Long-tailed Tit, Goldcrest and a passing Sparrowhawk. At the water meadow there were Teal, Egyptian Geese and we had the opportunity to study the identification of wintering Common Gull & 2nd winter Herring Gull. Around the lake we had excellent views of Nuthatch, Marsh Tit and Siskin, whilst on the lake, good numbers of Tufted Duck and Gadwall were scrutinised for anything scarcer. A pair of Shoveler were the only unusual wildfowl found but we did get to observe the early courtship behaviour of Mute Swan and learn about the phenomena of ‘polish’ off-spring. On our return walk back to the car park we encountered a pair of territorial Mistle Thrush, a couple of migrant Redwing, a superb ‘drumming’ Great Spotted Woodpecker and observed the finer detail of a pale Common Buzzard as it flew low over our heads. A total of forty four species were seen on our walk.

Future walks will end at the National Trust cafe for optional light refreshments.

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Tuesday 17th February


Female Pochard, new on Felbrigg Lake this year

A Song Thrush was in fine voice as I walked down The Street and there were three more in the allotment field. For the first time in ages there were clear skies and early morning sunshine as I entered the park. On the water meadow, which is very waterlogged, there were seven Snipe and a pair of Egyptian Geese. Having crossed the upper sluice, I walked towards the screen where I could hear and then see Siskins feeding in the Alders, seven in total – the odd pair chasing each other through the trees. On the lake itself the number of Gadwall continues to drop whilst Tufted Duck numbers are up to 38. A lone female Pochard was new for the lake this year. A Mistle Thrush was singing from the top of a tree by the dam and the pair of Great Spotted Woodpecker were busy drumming and calling to each other. A dark looking Buzzard flew west over the treetops and a flock of Long-tailed Tits made their busy way through the undergrowth. On my way back up the lane a male Bullfinch was slightly less timid than usual and allowed me to get an acceptable grab shot.


Looking forward to tomorrow’s first NENBC mid-week walk in the park.

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Friday 13th – unlucky for some!


Adult Mediterranean Gull, ‘first for Felbrigg’, 13th February

Another morning spent in Felbrigg park, on this occasion, in the company of Andy from the bird club. We had a good walk round beginning at Sexton’s Lodge, through the southern section of the Great Wood, down past the Hall, across the grazing fields to the water meadow, round the lake, through Common Plantation, back across the rough grazing, around the lake again and back along the lane to home! Plenty of birds about, including  Mediterranean Gull – I’ve seen one before in the parish, on the fields to the west of the village, but this was a first for Felbrigg! Other birds of interest included a flock of eight Siskin, Golden Plover, Buzzard and Shoveler. There were also five Lesser black-backed Gull on the lake, these were new for the year and possibly an indication of the start of spring migration?


One of four adults and a first winter Lesser black-backed Gull  

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Thursday 12th February


Female Nuthatch, Felbrigg Park, 12th February

Still no sign of the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker which I saw a couple of days ago, but I did receive news from a local of a probable Lesser Spot visiting a nearby bird table. Spent most of my time in the vicinity of the lake, so this afternoon’s species count was low. No sign of Goldeneye or Wigeon on the lake but there’s now a pair of Shoveler. Plenty of activity from the commoner woodland species, including Great Spotted & Green Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Stock Dove & tits of various sorts. A single Woodcock was in the wood as I headed for Keeper’s Lodge.


Male Shoveler, Felbrigg Lake

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Wednesday 11th February


A grab shot of a male, winter Siskin, Felbrigg Park

Made a return visit to Felbrigg Park this morning in an attempt to relocate the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, seen yesterday. A muffled ‘kicking’, as I entered through the back gate, caught my attention but I failed to locate it’s source. What I presume was the same pair of Great Spotted Woodpecker where busy drumming and chasing each other nearer the lake. Wildfowl numbers were pretty much as on previous visits – no sign of Goldeneye but the female Wigeon has returned. Mistle Thrush were singing and nest site prospecting in the wood west of the lake, a small flock of Siskin were feeding in the Alders by the screen – my first in Felbrigg this year and a Marsh Tit gave very close views. A small flock of Greenfinch were at the top of the Ash tree walking back up the lane.

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Wild Goose Chase

We’d just arrived back home from shopping in Cromer when a single ‘grey’ goose flew over head towards Felbrigg calling – the call an odd, drawn out,  ‘quark’ gained my immediate attention. Without any binoculars to hand I was left none the wiser, so I decided to go in search. There were a few birds in the park when we entered through the back gate, including Fieldfare and Redwing. There was a pair of Egyptian Geese on the water meadow and the number of Mute Swan on the lake has increased to 17. No sign of the Goldeneye however and, more importantly, no goose! A Green Woodpecker called from somewhere near the church. We decided to head back home for lunch but I became distracted by a faint drumming, coming from the oak shelter belt across from the water meadow. I decided to double back and check it out. As I approached the trees two Great Spotted Woodpecker flew out and began chasing each other – was that the source of the drumming I’d heard, I remained unconvinced. Just then I heard an unfamiliar squeaky trilling – seven or eight high notes quickly repeated. I went to the source of the noise and saw, in profile, a female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker clinging to a dead bough. It took flight towards the edge of the park but as it did so I got good views of it’s striped back – lacking the usual ‘angel wings’ of Great Spot. It’s been four or five years since I last saw this illusive species in the park – so not the bird I’d gone in pursuit of but certainly not a wild goose chase!

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Sunday 8th February

I decided to head north for my afternoons walk and explore a bit of the parish which is ‘across the tracks’ from us -or in this case the A148! A nice selection of woodland birds but nothing out of the ordinary. I passed by the water tower and then re-crossing the main road, headed down Lion’s Mouth and through the park to Sexton’s Lodge. A couple of drumming Great Spotted Woodpeckers provided some interest before eventually arriving at the water meadow. A dozen Teal were splashing about up the stream but I couldn’t locate any Snipe. The lake held it’s usual assortment of wildfowl although the Goldeneye appear to have departed. Along the path, west of the lake, a couple of Treecreeper showed well as did Marsh Tit. Up the lane on my way home, the flock of forty or so Linnet were in the Ash trees with a dozen Fieldfare. Nice to have some afternoon sun for a change.

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Thursday 5th February

There was a warmth in the afternoon sun when I set off on my walk around the park. A large gathering of gulls on the ploughed field by Church Lane contained only Black-headed and Common as far as I could see. A Bullfinch called from up in the tree canopy as I made my way from Sexton’s Lodge towards the Victory V avenue. There was nothing of note as I passed by the Hall, until I heard a Little Owl calling from the beech trees in front of the cafe. I crossed the pasture to look over the water meadow, where I bumped into friends from Gresham – we had a chat about the bird club before I left to check out the lake. I then came across another couple who were also members of the club – things are beginning to take off! There was the usual selection of wildfowl on the lake, including the two Goldeneye. I disturbed two Woodcock from their usual resting place in Common Plantation. Things improved after the hail shower when I saw Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Marsh Tit in the dank woods around the screen. Up the lane, on my way home, there was a flock of forty Linnet and in the cow pasture by the entrance to the allotments a dozen Blackbirds, three Song Thrush and three Redwing. By the time I got home around five I was very cold!