Aylmerton Nature Diary

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Thursday 27th October

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of leading a group of friends on a morning’s bird-walk, first along the cliffs at West Runton and later in Felbrigg Park. We saw a total of 55 species, including Peregrine and Mediterranean Gull at the coast, and Kingfisher and 100+ Brambling in the park.

Yesterday afternoon I was passing Cley NWT and decided to look for the reported Shore Lark near Sea Pool. I didn’t find them but I did find (re-find) a superb male Desert Wheatear – the first at Cley for twenty years. See TrevorOnTour for the full story.

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Tuesday 25th October


Seven of the flock of nine Mandarin, present on Felbrigg Lake this morning

All the action was at the lake this morning – well what you could see through the mist that is. As I approached, down the central track, a Little Egret appeared over the lake – presumably from out of the roost. I started scanning for the Goldeneye, found yesterday whilst we were at Cley, but without success. I did however find a raft of Mandarin – nine in total, the most I’ve ever seen at this site. There were four males and five females, though a pair quickly split off from the group and disappeared into the undergrowth near the viewing screen. Other duck present included ten Tufted, four Wigeon – one of which looked like a possible 1st winter male and fifteen Teal, which flew off towards the water meadow.

I found the other two lurking by the viewing screen


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Sunday 23rd October

I went birding this afternoon to the neighbouring parish of West Runton – shouldn’t have bothered really. The only things I saw of any interest were a lone Brent Goose on the winter wheat field, immediately west of Woodhill Caravan Park, a pair of Stonechat in the hedge near the Rocky Bottom restaurant and a flock of 15+ Brambling, feeding at the side of Tower Road.

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Saturday 22nd October

Yesterday was taken up with a conservation work-party in the village – some really good work done by everyone! This morning I yielded to the temptation of a local ‘twitch’ to Gun Hill to see an Isabelline Wheatear – a rare visitor from Eastern Europe and Asia. For more details follow this link.

However, I did get round the park this evening but, having reached the far end of the lake, the heavens opened and I got rather wet on the journey home. The most notable bird interest was the group of ten Teal, including two males on the lake, and the Kingfisher, watched hovering above the lake before plunging in to catch a small fish.

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Friday 21st October


A nice late Chiffchaff (collybita) was in the hedgerow below the dam

Having managed to get out for a walk around the park yesterday afternoon, I went to see if I could connect with Yellow-browed Warbler in the trees around the ice pond – I failed miserably. Things improved by the time I got to the lake – a vocal Chiffchaff was in the bushes below the dam and the Grey Wagtail was flying around, calling, by the outflow stream. On the lake itself the numbers of Tufted Duck has increased to 17 and the Wigeon flock to five. There was also a lone female Teal. The Kingfisher was obligingly sat in it’s favourite bush opposite the viewing screen. A Bullfinch was in the hedge on my way back up the lane along with a mixture of winter thrushes.

We have another conservation work-party in the village this afternoon, so I doubt that I’ll be able to get out.

The Kingfisher (female) was in it’s favourite bush opposite the viewing screen


One of the five female Wigeon now present on The Lake


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Thursday 20th October

Yesterday was the NENBC mid-week walk in Felbrigg Park. Despite the unpromising weather – showers and moderately strong winds, we did manage to see 35 species. The highlights being a flock of sixty or so Siskin around The Heath and three Brambling, feeding between The Hall and the walled garden.

Managed a walk around the lake, late afternoon in near continuous down-pours. Not surprisingly we saw very little – a nice group of 14 Tufted Duck being the best sighting.

This morning was the NENBC ‘trial’ coordinated sea-watch. We arrived at ‘first light’ and stayed for three hours. Our best birds included a juvenile Sabine’s Gull, Little Gull, Sooty and Manx Shearwater, a Short-eared Owl, ten Eider and several Great Skua. It’ll be interesting to see how the results from the six sites along the coast, from Happisburgh to Weybourne, compare.

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Saturday evening


Seven of the eight Mandarin, present on Felbrigg Lake this evening

Encouraged by the continuing mild weather and good light I decided to take an evening walk around Felbrigg lake. I was glad I did as there was plenty to see. The flock of fifteen Tufted Duck were still present from this morning, together with the two female Wigeon, three Teal and an amazing eight Mandarin Duck – three males and five females. They made a colourful display – accentuated by the evening sun. This is the largest group I’ve seen on the lake for a couple of years, I think. The Kingfisher was very vocal along the western edge of the lake as usual.

Couldn’t quite get the whole group in one shot!


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Saturday 15th October


Flock of feeding Redwing

I started the day leading a bird walk around Felbrigg for the local ‘Loose enders’ group. We saw over fifty species, the highlights of which included great views of Little Owl and Pied Wagtail, two Wigeon on the lake with 15 Tufted Duck and Pink-footed Geese flying over. There were plenty of winter thrushes about but they weren’t particularly obliging.

This afternoon I was doing a bit of work in my neighbours paddock when I became aware of a Yellow-browed Warbler calling in the Sycamore tree above my head. I returned home to get my camera but unfortunately I couldn’t relocate it. However, on a general walk around the area I did find a couple of vocal Brambling and flushed a Woodcock. In the cattle field at the bottom of The Street there was a small flock of 20 or so Redwing.

Fieldfare – having managed to navigate it’s way across the North Sea, sadly ending up as road-kill


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Thursday 13th October


My first male Mandarin since mid-June

First foray into Felbrigg Park in over a week. A Muntjac was out in the open in the Old Deer Park, soon after I entered through the back gate. As I walked down the central track towards the lake there were several groups of Redwing and Blackbird, feeding in the nearby Hawthorn – later moving off to the west. A lone Fieldfare flew over, calling. On the lake I saw a distant male Mandarin – my first since mid-June, later joined by another male and a female. Also on the lake, two male Tufted Duck and a female Wigeon. There were 34 Cormorant in the roost.

Later on in the morning I had a walk around my neighbour’s fields, where there was a noisy Brambling in the thick hedge, with Chaffinch and a Siskin feeding on his feeders.

Muntjac, in the early morning gloom – Felbrigg Old Deer Park


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Wednesday 12th October


Dusky Warbler – unfortunately, taken earlier this year in Thailand, not Cromer!

We got back home at lunch-time from our week in Cornwall and a brief stop-over to see the kids. A brief ‘pit-stop’ and I was out of the door to try to catch up with the Dusky Warbler which had been present along the cliffs at Cromer since the weekend. I was relieved and delighted to hear it’s characteristic repeated ‘tac’ call coming from a dense patch of Willowherb, just below the lighthouse. It showed briefly but well on a couple of occasions, remaining hidden in deep cover for most of the time. This was an NENBC ‘first’ for me, having missed several in the area over the years.