Aylmerton Nature Diary


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Saturday 28th March

Managed to get out in the afternoon, between the showers, with my youngest son Jake. Same stuff as over the past few days, nothing new and no sign of Lee’s Willow Warbler either. Still, with the 1st April on Wednesday, it’s all about to happen!

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Willow Warbler in Felbrigg

My birding neighbour Lee told me that he thought he’d seen a Willow Warbler in Felbrigg on Monday and sent me a photo, which indeed confirms the bird’s identification. The 23rd March is quite an early date for this summer visitor to Norfolk and beats the previous three years ‘early dates’ for the county, as published in the Norfolk Bird Report. Well done Lee!

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Willow Warbler, Felbrigg. Courtesy of Lee Delbridge


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Friday 27th March

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Last picture I promise.. Black Redstart, Felbrigg

We’ve had friends to stay for the past few days so I’ve spent less time around the parish but we did manage to get to Felbrigg on Wednesday evening. Saw the Black Redstart on the main Hall – at one stage it came down to the ground, in front of the Orangery, giving superb views. Two pairs of Mandarin flew in to roost by the lake at dusk and the Little Owl was calling from the oaks by the dam.

Today I finally caught up with Red Kite, which drifted across the allotments, heading towards the park, followed shortly afterwards by a Sparrowhawk. The Kite was a new bird for me in the parish in 2015.


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Sunday 22nd March

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Little Owl, Felbrigg Park

The male Black Redstart was still present on the main hall early morning. As I entered the back gate to the park there was a Chiffchaff singing – my first for 2015. A little further along the track to the hall two Little Owl were calling to each other and a third was calling from the oak shelter-belt. The small flock of Siskin were busy feeding in the alders by the lake. No sign of the Mandarins. A flock of fifty Fieldfare and Redwing were present on the horse paddock, first thing.

Male Black Redstart on Felbrigg Hall

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Post Script: The pair of Black Redstart at the Aylmerton allotments appear to have now finally moved on. Last seen on Tuesday afternoon, they spent a good deal of their time in and around the large log pile on my neighbours allotment. The male was heard to sing occasionally. As a precaution I stopped putting out reports and alerted people to the possibility of breeding – unlikely though such an event would have been in a rural setting. Thank you to those who avoided any unnecessary disturbance during their stay.

Female Black Redstart – Aylmerton allotment

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Friday 20th March

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Pair of Mandarin arriving to roost

The superb male Black Redstart was still flitting about on the roof of Felbrigg Hall just before five tonight. On the water meadow a pair of Oystercatcher and a lone Lapwing. A Little Owl was calling continually from oaks along the dam with another two on my return back through the shelter belt. A single male Pochard was feeding amongst the Tufted flock whilst a female Mandarin was resting along the edge of the dam. Another pair of Mandarin flew across the lake to roost. A couple  of Treecreeper were calling to each other near the viewing screen and a pair of Great Spotted Woodpecker chased each other across the park.


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Wednesday 18th March

Today was the NENBC mid-week walk around Felbrigg. Twenty two people, of mixed levels of birding ability, turned out for what proved to be a very good event indeed. A total of fifty three species were identified, with the highlights being three Little Owl, a small flock of Siskin, a pair of very obliging Mandarin Duck and prolonged views of  both Treecreeper & Nuthatch. However, the best bird came right at the end, when most people had left the NT cafe after enjoying morning coffee together. We were just on our way home past the main Hall when I noticed a small bird flitting amongst the chimney pots – a superb male Black Redstart! A different bird from the one recently at the allotments – much darker on the front and with more striking white wing flashes. I spoke to one of the Trust workers who said it had been around for two weeks! I returned after lunch to obtain some record shots:

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On my way back to the Hall, a Barn Owl was hunting in broad day-light over the rough meadow at the bottom of The Street.

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A terrible photo because, in my excitement, I’d got the camera on the wrong setting – oh well!


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Monday 16th March

Went to look for the Black Redstart first thing yesterday, on the off-chance it would still be around and to my great surprise it was! Also seen later in the day. Perhaps even more surprising was when I went to water the seedlings in the poly-tunnel, I found this guy!

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Chiffchaff, allotment, 16th March

My first Chiffchaff of the Spring – released unharmed (as were our seedlings!)