Aylmerton Nature Diary

Thursday 7th April

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Willow Warbler, singing near the viewing screen this morning

There’s a bit of catching up to do. Apart from the Tundra Peregrine episode, the most notable thing that happen at Cley on Monday was bumping into a group of American birders, from Woodstock. They were in Bishop’s hide when we arrived to do our first check of the day and immediately impressed as a knowledgeable, sociable and energetic bunch. They spent the morning on the reserve before moving on to Titchwell and we were able to connect them to one or two species that they were keen to see – Bearded Tit being among them. Anyway, to cut a long story short, we got on well and as a result I spent a delightful day with them on Tuesday, showing them around. We did Felbrigg first (of course!) followed by Kelling, Selbrigg and Baconsthorpe, before finally retiring to a pub for super and a lovely evening of entertaining and enlightening conversation! I never cease to be amazed at the power of birding to bring people together – from all across the globe. We’re lucky to share a common interest with so many engaging and generous people!

Yesterday was a busy day at home. The weather wasn’t great and I’d got plenty of paperwork to get on with, so I spent the day indoors. By this morning the wind had died down and the sun was shining. A Chiffchaff was still singing down the lane and a Green Woodpecker called from the direction of Sexton’s Lodge. There were a pair of Barn Owl hunting over the rough grazing, above the water meadow as I walked down the central track – later, a third bird, was along the eastern edge of the lake. Half a dozen Teal were still around, along with two pairs of Gadwall, a Little Grebe, two Snipe and, best of all, five Shoveler – including three males. I crossed the sluice and headed for the wood, on the western edge of the lake, to look for the male Redstart, found by Lee yesterday (well done mate!). First birds I saw were a group of four Siskin in the Alder and then I heard, what I thought was, a brief snatch of Willow Warbler song. I looked around but could see nothing, only a Chaffinch and concluded that I must have been mistaken. More fruitless searching for the Redstart and then that distinctive song again. Thirty yards away, hidden in amongst the branches was a singing Willow Warbler – first for me at Felbrigg this year! On the lake there were the usual wildfowl, including a male Mandarin, the althya hybrid and more Gadwall. There were a couple of pairs of Coot and, hunting over the water, a group of Sand Martin. A Little Owl was calling from the corner by the dam. I walked up the Weaver’s Way to look for the Wheatear, seen by Ken & Carol a couple of days ago, but not surprisingly, it had moved on. There was a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming in the shelter belt on the way home.

Every so often you see a bird well enough to know it’s different but not so well as to be sure of it’s identification. As I walked towards the viewing screen I saw initially, what I thought was a Starling flying through the Alders. Slightly better views, albeit looking pretty much into the sun, and I was sure it was a Woodpecker – though small and barred. It didn’t call and I lost it amongst the trees towards the sluice. I’m half convinced it was a Lesser Spot – but not convinced enough to claim it!

Male Siskin, feeding in the Alders

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Probable Tufted x Ferruginous hybrid

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