Aylmerton Nature Diary

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Tuesday 30th June


Male Black-tailed Skimmer, with Common Blue Damselfly in the background

Just been down to Felbrigg Lake to see if I could track down some rare Dragons! Got several reasonable views of Red-veined Darter but, alas, inconclusive views of Lesser Emperor!

Female Emperor, egg depositing



Another shot of Male Red-veined Darter, showing blue cast to the lower part of the eye

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Saturday afternoon


Large Skipper, Aylmerton Pond

Having mowed the new grass path around the western edge of the village pond at lunchtime, I was keen to get back there this afternoon to see what wildlife was about. To my delight there were at least four species of butterfly using the newly created ‘hot-spots’ – Red Admiral, Painted Lady, Speckled Wood and Large Skipper, my first of the year. Encouraged by the upturn in insect activity, I continued on into Felbrigg and down towards the lake. At the Warren I bumped into Simon, who told me he’d just seen a Red-veined Darter – a scarce migrant dragonfly from southern Europe. After half an hour of ‘no show’ I decided to check out the grazing meadow below the dam for the Cuckoo, seen by Perry this morning. On the top path, close to the gate, I saw a medium-sized ‘red’ dragonfly which I assumed was probably the ‘target’. Looking at the photos this evening I think that my id is correct – but, as always, I’m happy to be advised otherwise. Also of interest at the lake, female Mandarin and the Tawny Owl was still in the shelter-belt.


Male Red-veined Darter, Felbrigg Warren

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Saturday 27th June


Tawny Owl, sunning itself – Felbrigg Park

It’s been a few days since I was able to get out around the patch. First bird of note was a Barn Owl, hunting close to the village. This bird was noticeably gingery on the upper parts. Once into the park I quickly located the Spotted Flycatcher family, with one adult and a juvenile showing from time to time. I was half way down the shelter belt, looking at the reasonable numbers of butterflies that now seem to have emerged, when I noticed a strikingly ‘black & white’ wader fly across the gap in the trees – seconds later it gave the diagnostic call of a Green Sandpiper. Most of the usual stuff was around the lake but there seems to have been an increase in the number of singing Reed Warbler, including one close to the viewing screen. Three pairs of Coot have young, with one of them re-building their nest whilst continuing to look after their ‘adolescent’ brood. On the way back the tell-tale noise of mobbing Blackbirds drew my attention to a Tawny Owl sat out in an oak tree, sunning itself. It wasn’t long before the Blackbirds had pestered it to move on though. More butterflies up the lane making for a reasonable list: Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown & Common Blue.


Broad-bodied Chaser


Small Tortoiseshell


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Sunday 21st June

Walking round this afternoon I was struck by how few butterflies I’ve been seeing lately. The Spring seemed to get off to a reasonable start and I saw all of the expected early species including Brimstone, Comma, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock, Orange Tip, Speckled Wood, & Small White. But for the past few weeks they’ve mostly dried up. I did see two Red Admiral and a couple of Meadow Brown in the church yard today but that was it in a two hour session.

On a more positive note, the pair of Spotted Flycatcher in Felbrigg are busy feeding young, suggesting that they were fairly early arrivers and holding out the promise of a second and possibly a third brood!


Spotted Flycatcher – Felbrigg Park

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Saturday 20th June

I was strolling around the parish this afternoon when I noticed a Barn Owl flying straight towards me with a vole in its tallons. It saw me and quickly doubled back to a nearby oak. Thinking that this was odd behaviour and realising that I was close to a long established owl box location, I hid in the hedge and waited. Within minutes the owl took to the wing again and flew directly to the box, exciting a young bird(s) inside, as it did so. Proof positive of a successful breeding attempt in, what I’m told, is a previously unoccupied box. Great news!

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Wednesday 17th June


Aylmerton Village Pond 

After a weeks holiday in Mallorca, (click this link for the birding highlights) and another week at home, filled with voluntary work at Cley NWT  – including the official opening of the Simon Aspinall centre by Sir David Attenborough and our first Aylmerton Pond Project working party (see below for details), it was good to get into Felbrigg Park with a group of fifteen or so on the NENBC June mid-week walk.

You don’t expect to see much at this time of the year – all of our summer visitors have arrived and are busy breeding, the trees are in full leaf so it’s difficult to get good views of the woodland species and with the long days, any bird song is usually very early in the morning. Most of the ducks on the lake are well into moult – their ‘eclipse’ plumage making them pretty difficult to tell apart. Still, we did manage a respectable bird list of 44 species, including a Red Kite over the car park at the start, a pair of Spotted Flycatchers in the oak shelter belt and a Cuckoo calling over Common Plantation.

Mad as it seems, but it won’t be long before the first of the waders start their long return migration – I’d expect the first Common or Green Sandpiper to pass through in the next few weeks. It’s time perhaps to concentrate on some of the other summer wildlife that the Park has to offer.

Aylmerton Village Pond Project details:




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Friday 5th June


Flock of eight Gadwall – Felbrigg Lake

We ran the first of a series of three NENBC Beginners Birding Workshops at the village hall last night – a nice group of people, who all seemed reasonable well entertained and informed.

Up early this morning for my last walk round for a few days. I’ve not been conscious of it but Felbrigg has gently slipped into summer. All the migrants are in and busy breeding, most of our resident birds have already produced their first broods and many are on to their second. I’ve seen Blackbird and Moorhen building or repairing their nests over the past couple of days. Interestingly, some of the ducks on the lake are already beginning to moult into ‘eclipse’ and there’s been a small increase in the number of Gadwall – presumably non-breeders. The pair of Lapwing are still on the water meadow but there’s no sign of any youngsters – I fear they might have abandoned their nest again.

Yesterday, at the allotment, I had my first Painted Lady butterfly of the year and there were several blue Damselfly- which I failed to identify!