Every so often one of my regular Felbrigg walks turns in to something special – today was one of those days! Although it wasn’t yet ten o’clock when we reached the footpath, which runs across Forge Field, there were already quite a few Common Blue Damselflies and Ringlets about. Just as the path dips down towards the lake, a large brown dragonfly, with obvious yellow-veined wings, got up from the vegetation and hurtled off through the trees. I was pretty confident it was a Brown Hawker but I needed better views to be sure. We waited on the path which leads towards the viewing screen until up it flew and landed in a dense patch of bramble, where I managed to get a couple of reasonable shots.
A fabulous Brown Hawker, Felbrigg Park
We’d just got to the far end of the dam when from somewhere overhead I heard the unmistakable call of a Curlew. It circled over the lake, looking as if to land, before being frightened off by an approaching Red Kite, which drifted in from the east. Having failed to get to my camera in time, the bird was lost to view over the rough grazing meadow, towards Sustead. Fortunately, five minutes latter, it reappeared, calling repeatedly, but it remained airborne before finally drifting off again over Metton. Curlew is one of those birds that you might think you’d see regularly at Felbrigg but actually they are pretty scarce and I can’t remember exactly when I saw my last one – quite some time ago though, I can tell you.
A scarce bird at Felbrigg – Curlew, over the rough grazing meadow
Whilst watching from the dam, a distant flock of large dark birds appeared from the south, heading towards the lake – turned out to be Cormorant, a ‘baker’s dozen’ in all. Continuing around the lake, we came across a couple of young Lesser Whitethroats in the bushes, by Boat-house Bay. I presume these were birds dispersing away from the successful breeding site near the dam.
Flock of thirteen Cormorant, heading for Felbrigg Lake
Young Lesser Whitethroat, Boat-house Bay
Passing the Warren, on our way back home, we disturbed a pair of mating Black-tailed Skimmer.
Mating Black-tailed Skimmer, The Warren, Felbrigg Park
We stopped at the sluice to look for dragonflies – more Black-tailed Skimmer and a couple of Emperor were all we could find but there was a handsome Sedge Warbler, perched on the barbed wire fence, with a beak full of damselfly. As we watched, it disappeared into the reed-bed on the edge of the water meadows and was greeted by several squeaking youngsters – more evidence for the Felbrigg Park Breeding Bird Survey!