Aylmerton Nature Diary

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Monday 30th November


A late male Ring Ouzel, in Blackbird flock – Salthouse

I’ve not managed to get out into the Park for the past few days – weather, family visiting and Bird Club stuff, all conspiring against me. I did see though that my birding neighbour, Lee, has posted a couple of good records over the past few days – Goosander and Little Egret. The latter has been very scarce in the Park over the summer. There was a nice flock of Long-tailed Tit along The Street the other day, as I made my way back from the allotments and the birds are busy emptying my feeders in the garden. There has been a noticeable increase in the number of Blackbirds of late – some are busy finishing off the last of my cooking apples in the garden right now. I was looking at a similar flock the other day in Salthouse and was delighted to fine the reported male Ring Ouzel in their midst! It’s still possible that there may be the odd bird hanging around in the parish – or perhaps something even rarer in the thrush line..!

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Wednesday 25th November

In complete contrast to yesterday, this mornings walk was enjoyed under blue skies and warm sunshine. There wasn’t anything of particular note, the most interesting birds being a couple of Egyptian Geese, grazing with the Greylags – the first I’ve seen in the Park since the end of the summer. We did encounter a nice ‘mixed flock’ in the Great Wood, which included four Tit species, Treecreeper, Nuthatch & Goldcrest. A nearby Great Spotted Woodpecker looked absolutely gorgeous, illuminated by the dappled sunlight.  In our two hour round trip we managed to rack up a total of 54 species.

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Tuesday 24th November


Yellowhammer – Felbrigg Park

It drizzled nearly all the time I was out this morning. I went, more in hope than expectation, to look for Sunday’s Siberian Chiffchaff – alas, no sign. I did manage to find a pair of Yellowhammer though – the first I’ve seen in the Park for months. I also had my first Woodcock and Brambling of this winter period. All the birds were in or around the coverts along the Weaver’s Way. The winter thrush flocks have increased, with similar numbers of Redwing, Fieldfare and Blackbird in evidence. There was nothing new on the Lake but three Bullfinch, in the hedge up The Street, was a nice conclusion to a rather damp morning.

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Sunday 22nd November


Siberian Chiffchaff – Felbrigg Park

Despite the forecast of ‘cloudy & overcast’, it was actually pouring down by the time we got into the Park this morning. We made our way down to the Lake just as the Cormorants started leaving their roost – I counted 26 in total. Neil noticed a duck sp flying off, it was a male Goosander, which did a circuit of the Lake before heading off to the north west.  There was the usual selection of wildfowl including a single Little Grebe and a pair of Mandarin. There’s a noticeable increase in the number of Blackbirds about, we counted at least 25. A flock of 9 Golden Plover flew over the sheep fields as we approached the track behind the church. As we headed towards the Great Wood, a small pale bird got up from the dead nettles at the side of the track and flew into the nearby Sycamore. A quick look through the bins and it was obviously a ‘Phyllos’. Chiffchaff came to mind, but this bird was way too pale – washed-out buff below and greyish-brown above with noticeable green fringes to the wings and tail, a hint of a wing mark, clean, thin buff ‘super’, dirty cheeks and black bill and legs. As we watched, it flew back down to the side of the track to feed several times – giving excellent views, albeit in very overcast/dark conditions. It called just a couple of times, a soft chirp-like noise. Pretty confident that this was a Siberian Chiffchaff and another possible ‘first’ for Felbrigg? Unfortunately photography was virtually impossible as it got darker and started to hail!

A couple more record shots:



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Friday 20th November


Canada Goose, Felbrigg Lake – is it my imagination or does this look a little on the small side?

With a ‘no show’ of the Glossy Ibis at the roost last night, we were up early to see if, by any chance, it had slipped in undetected. The Cormorants were already leaving their perches as we approached at around half past seven. There was no sign of the bird so we decided to check out it’s known feeding spots – no luck here either. After a week in residence, I think it may now have departed – what a pity. Plenty of small birds about including several Siskin, Bullfinch and Nuthatch as well as a group of five Fieldfare flying over. Three Buzzard were over Common Plantation, including a rather pale ‘continental type’ bird with pale underparts, upper wing panels and upper tail coverts. There were plenty of Pink-feet flying to their feeding grounds. On the Lake, the usual selection of commoner species, though no sign of the Goldeneye or Mandarin but two Canada Geese were present. Is it just my imagination or do they look a little on the small side?

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Thursday 19th November

Following reports that the Glossy Ibis hadn’t been seen since it flew north, mid-morning, we went down tonight to see if it came back to roost. Despite being in position by four o’clock and staying until it got dark, there was no sign! There was a maximum count of thirty one Cormorant and four Mandarin did a fly-past in the gloom but didn’t land. On the way home two Barn Owl were in a dead tree on the edge of the shelter belt and a calling Tawny Owl was nicely silhouetted in trees at the end of the Deer Park.

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Wednesday 18th November


NENBC mid-week walk, Felbrigg – fresh from a successful Glossy Ibis ‘twitch’

It was the NENBC mid-week walk at Felbrigg this morning and I was hopeful that we would be able to catch up with the Glossy Ibis. The twenty or so participants made their way straight down to the Lake, noting the two immature Goldeneye amongst the flock of Tufted Duck, as we passed by. We assembled on the bank, overlooking the muddy footpath, and it wasn’t long before the bird emerged from the surrounding vegetation to feed out in the open. Everyone enjoyed good views before we finally moved off across the dam and around the western edge of the Lake. The cafe being closed 😦 we carried on through the Great Wood, before finally returning to the Sexton’s Lodge car park. A Peregrine over the wood was a pleasing conclusion to the walk.

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Where to see the Glossy Ibis at Felbrigg

Yesterday the The National Trust issued a reminder to people to stay on the footpaths whilst looking for/watching the Glossy Ibis at Felbrigg. Like all wild birds the Glossy Ibis can be difficult to see at times but the best place to see it is marked by the pink arrow, on the map below. By standing on the footpath under the trees, just east of the spot you get an elevated view of the muddy track as it crosses Scarrow Beck – just below the dam wall of the Lake. This is the birds favourite feeding area. Please stick to the public footpaths and avoid disturbing the bird.



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Tuesday 17th November


Glossy Ibis, Felbrigg Park – at first light

A posting on the NENBC website yesterday concerning Goosander at Selbrigg Pond was all that was needed to ensure I was down there for dawn. Sure enough, as it began to get light, I could just make out the form of two Goosanders. As the light improved I could see that both were males, which promptly took off and headed in a south-easterly direction. In the vague hope that they might end up at Felbrigg, I headed there next. I parked by Keeper’s Lodge, walked through Common Plantation and down to the Lake. Unfortunately the only wildfowl interest was in the shape of the two immature Goldeneye and a pair of Mandarin – but no Goosander. I carried on over the dam and looked back over the rough grazing meadow, delighted to see that the Glossy Ibis was ‘up and about’ – feeding in it’s usual spot, on the muddy track across Scarrow Beck.

I was busy for the rest of the morning helping with a job on the church flagpole and had a Bird Club meeting this afternoon. It was beginning to get dark this evening when I headed down towards Felbrigg Park to check on the Ibis. A pair of Muntjac were along the lane towards the Forge, and there were six Mandarin on the Lake, as I approached from the water meadow. At this point I bumped into Simon and his Dad who were already staking out the roost. They told me that the Glossy Ibis hadn’t been seen since lunchtime but that there had been a male Goosander during the afternoon – which had now disappeared – gnash! There was some recompense when I located the Glossy Ibis in the roost at ten past four. I’m hoping that it will still be around over the next couple of days when I’ve got bird walks for the NENBC and National Trust!



Sunday 15th November


Record shot of ‘out of area’ Hoopoe, Crostwick

We’ve got Jake, Katie and ‘little man’ Noah staying with us this weekend, so birding has been limited. We did manage a short walk around Felbrigg Park yesterday in the rain but unfortunately the bird we wanted to see – the Glossy Ibis, was at the far end of the park and quite beyond the reach of the buggy.

This morning we went to Sheringham for a walk along the prom and were pleased to find a single Purple Sandpiper on the rocks, east of the Funky Mackerel cafe. Back for lunch and then off to see if we could track down the Hoopoe, which has been hanging around Crostwick (less than a couple of miles outside the NENBC boundary!). Despite the location, horse paddocks completely surrounded by houses, we did manage reasonable views, standing on an up-turned crate, looking over a 6′ fence. On the way there we tracked down the family party of Bewick’s Swan just outside Aylsham and, this time, well within the NENBC area.

Once back at home we decided to have another try for the Ibis. Jake and I went down to the Lake, where the two Goldeneye are still present, and across the dam, to view the muddy track across Scarrow Beck. Sure enough the Glossy Ibis was there, busily feeding. We watched it until it was getting dark, when finally it flew towards the Lake and we managed to relocate it roosting in the Cormorant tree. On the way back home we saw the Barn Owl quartering the water meadow and two Tawny Owl calling to each other near the back gate. Not a bad ‘non-birding’ day !