Aylmerton Nature Diary

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Sunday 27th September

Decided to take the afternoon off after yesterday’s yomp around the parish and do some birding in the neighbouring parish of East Runton. Parked at Top Common and walked around the bottom of Inclborough Hill, over the railway bridge into Thain’s Lane and down to the coast. Virtually no birds about, a few Cormorant heading east and a couple of Chiffchaff in the bushes. But I did come across this snoozing Fox though!


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Saturday 26th September – beating the bounds

As part of my AND (Aylmerton Nature Diary blog) ‘1st Birthday’ celebration I decided this afternoon to ‘beat the bounds’ – walk the parish boundary by using the roads, paths and woodland trails which keep as near to the boundary as possible. Although I have walked most parts of it previously, I’ve never done it all in one go before. It took me about three hours, from start to finish – a total distance of 12k.

Having entered the Felbrigg estate I headed through the Old Deer Park towards the western arm of the Victory V avenue, then north to cross the A148, turning left and followed Tower Road to Sandy Lane. Down Camp Lane to Roman Camp NT and Beacon Hill, 338ft above sea level and the highest point in the county. I then followed the line of the Cromer Ridge along a series of woodland paths as far as the quarry on Briton’s Lane, turned south to recross the A148 and down Bennington’s Lane, before turning left on to Mill Lane and up to the village cross. I then followed School Road as far as the Field Study Centre before re-entering Felbrigg Park at Keeper’s Cottage, following the Weaver’s Way through Common Plantation and down to Scarrow Beck. Finally, having crossed the stream, I headed up past the Lake to complete my journey along the path to the Old Deer Park.

Bird interest included Bullfinch in several spots, a number of Siskin flocks, singing Chiffchaff, a kettle of five Buzzard and a flock of about twenty Tufted Duck on the Lake.

Looking  across the Old Deer Park towards the Victory V Avenue


Beech trees in Felbrigg Great Wood


Conifers along the Cromer Ridge


A view to the sea from Beacon Hill


Newly re-created heathland, along the Cromer Ridge


Shady pool


The quarry on Briton’s Lane


Along Bennington’s Lane, heading south


Junction of Bennington’s and Mill Lane


Looking west to Gresham and beyond


The Village Cross and the entrance to Mill Lane


Scarrow Beck, looking upstream towards Felbrigg Lake


The Lake




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Wednesday 23rd September

The National Trust asked me sometime ago if I would lead some bird walks for them – this afternoon was the first one. Six people showed up and we had a nice, though rather uneventful walk. The birding highlights for the group being a small flock of Siskin, which flew into the Alders by the Lake and a couple of Little Owl. I was more pleased to see that there were still three Red-veined Darter near the top sluice and, just as we were finishing, a strong passage of House Martin flying west over the Hall. I counted 97 in about twenty minutes. There was also a small movement of Buzzard, involving 6-8 birds,  drifting slowly west, at around 2.00 pm.

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Sunday 20th September

Went for another look at the Red-veined Darter at Felbrigg this afternoon. Played a bit of a ‘cat and mouse’ game with them and the sun before finally getting a couple more acceptable photographs. Bird interest was mostly confined to a small group of Siskin feeding in the Alders near the top sluice.

Red-veined Darter


Also, Small Copper


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Saturday 19th September

Had the pleasure of leading a local group of ‘loose-enders’ on a bird walk around Felbrigg Park in the morning. Unfortunately, despite the pleasant weather, very few species were found on the route, which took us up the Victory V avenue, through to the heath, across the road to Felbrigg church, down to the Lake and back to the Hall via the gorse clump. We did come across a couple of tit flocks but they contained only the usual species, including Nuthatch. On the heath we did have a small flock of Siskin and nice but distant views of Great Spotted Woodpecker. We studied the gull flock on the fields around the church, before dropping down to the lake, where we found Tufted, Mallard, Teal & Gadwall. No sign of the Redstart in the gorse on our way back to the Hall. A nice walk with nice people nonetheless.


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Thursday 17th September


Red-veined Darter – Felbrigg Park

After yesterdays rain it took a while before the ground began to dry out and the sun to appear. By the time I’d had lunch it was just beginning to feel like there might be a prospect of some insect action, so I took a walk down to Felbrigg Lake in search of the reported second emergence of Red-veined Darter. It wasn’t long before I’d seen my first and eventually I’d counted half a dozen. Apparently, unlike the spring migrants, males are basically the same colour as the females – both being most reliably identified by the blue bottom half to their eyes.

The latter half of the afternoon was spent searching out and attempting to photograph the ‘female type’ Redstart, present for it’s fourth day at least, in the gorse clump between the Hall and the Lake.

Another view of Red-veined Darter, showing blue lower half to the eyes


Female type Redstart still in gorse, Felbrigg Park




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Elephant Hawk Moth


Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillar – Aylmerton 

I’d just got back from a walk in Felbrigg Park when the phone rang – it was a neighbour saying she’d been gardening and dug up an interesting looking caterpillar. I went round to take a look and it turned out to be a magnificent Elephant Hawk Moth caterpillar. Thanks Louisa!

..looking slightly more natural!