Aylmerton Nature Diary

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Wednesday 30th November

Fabulous dawn walk around the park yesterday – frost on the ground, mist on the lake, all bathed in the gold of the early morning sun. I went in the hope that the recent cold snap had brought something new in but it was not to be. There were the usual duck species on the lake, with Wigeon numbers now reaching six. On the water meadow there are still plenty of Teal – about two hundred I think, but they’re hard to count, hidden amongst the vegetation. Water Rail were squealing from the reed bed, both sides of the path across the top sluice. The Barn Owl was out hunting, first over the water meadow and then later over the rough grazing meadow, below the dam. A distant Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming from the direction of Common Plantation. Mammal interest was provided by a Muntjac, which I surprised along the middle track, near the hollow oak – it ran off across the water meadow, with it’s stiff white tail sticking up like a flag.

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Friday 25th November

I did manage to get out for a walk yesterday afternoon, around the lake and back via the Old Deer Park and along Red Barn Lane. It was very quiet through the shelter belt. On the lake there were the usual wildfowl, though Gadwall numbers seem to have dropped again, but there were five Mandarin – two males and three females, unusually roosting in the open, on the shore just north of Boathouse Bay. There was a single Snipe feeding amongst the Teal on the water meadows. A couple of Blackbird fed on the few remaining hawthorn berries – the Redwing and Fieldfare now seem to have moved on inland. A small tit flock at Sexton’s Lodge contained Great, Blue, Coal and Long-tailed and there was a Nuthatch calling nearby. I glimpsed a warbler in the flock – probably a Chiffchaff, but I wasn’t able to relocate it or confirm it’s id. Two male Bullfinch brightened up my return walk along the lane.

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Wednesday 23rd November


Peter, tending one of three bonfires – burning the accumulated brush-cuttings of four weeks worth of North Norfolk Workout Group activity!

No birding today as I was busy at Mallett’s Meadows, burning the accumulated brush-cuttings of four weeks worth of North Norfolk Workout Group activity on the site. I was joined by Peter, who made a hard task a lot easier – thanks Pete! The only wildlife interest came in the form of a Barn Owl early on, a Siskin feeding in the tops of the Alders and a Grey Wagtail on the pond. There were several frogs in the winter flooding areas as well.

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Tuesday 22nd November


Brambling, Felbrigg Park. The shortening days and overcast weather means that any photos are, I’m afraid, simply record shots

There was very little of interest on my walk around the park this afternoon. I was therefore pleased and surprised to find a couple of Brambling, feeding on the path across the dam. Wildfowl numbers appear to be largely unchanged – there was, however, no sign of the recent male Shoveler but there were three Mandarin, roosting on the ‘island’, near the viewing screen. There was a pair of Wigeon, in amongst the large number of Teal, on the water meadow.

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Sunday 20th November


Dead male Tufted Duck, the exit sluice, Felbrigg Lake

The rain eased this afternoon so I took the opportunity of a walk out. There was a Water Rail calling again near the viewing screen, another at the south end of the rough grazing meadow, below the dam, and a third in the ditch immediately below the outflow channel. The Barn Owl was hunting over the rough grazing and I flushed a Meadow Pipit and four Snipe as I walked through. The wildfowl on the lake remain reasonably static, though a splendid male Shoveler was new and the Gadwall numbers have increased to 45. On the water meadow, loads of Teal still, two pairs of Wigeon and a couple more Snipe. There was a male Bullfinch and a Jay on my way back up the lane.

On my walk round, I went to investigate a report from my friend in Gresham that there was an odd looking  black bird with a short tail, dead in the lake, near to the exit sluice. Sure enough it was still there this afternoon and it did look interesting, as it lay face down in the water. However, once I’d got a stick and fished it out, it turned out to be a dead male Tufted Duck and not the Auk sp. I’d been hoping for – still, interesting all the same. Thanks Anne!


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Friday 18th November

Much colder this afternoon than earlier in the week, but still some pleasant sunshine for my afternoon stroll in the park. As I walked down the path through the shelter-belt I could see a couple of swans on the water meadow. I checked to see if they were anything other than Mute, but they weren’t. I assumed that they were visitors and had been forced up there by the ‘family from hell’. When I got to the lake, I was not surprised therefore to find the family party, of adults and five youngsters, in residence. I was more surprised though to see two splendid drake and a single female Mandarin – which, since their peak of nine a few weeks ago, have become much less regular. The male Wigeon was still present, along with about thirty Gadwall and eleven Tufted Duck. On my way past the viewing screen I observed movement out of the corner of my eye. Careful scrutiny of the marshy areas produced good views of a Water Rail, feeding in the stream. There was a nice female Kestrel in the dead tree at the end of the dam.

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Thursday 17th November

Yesterday morning was the NENBC mid-week walk in Felbrigg Park. The weather was lovely for the time of year – warm, sunny with little wind. We had around thirty members attend and we saw over 50 species – highlights of which included Kingfisher, Grey Wagtail, Golden Plover, Siskin and Bullfinch.

Today it’s been raining most of the day – heavy at times. I was showing visitors around my neighbours meadows this afternoon when we came across the partly consumed carcass of a Water Rail! This is the first time I’ve had any evidence of this species on the upper reaches of Scarrow Beck! Evidence of the benefit of recent habitat management work I wonder?




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Tuesday 15th November


Double rainbow over Aylmerton Common this morning

It’s been nearly three weeks since I was able to walk around the patch – that’s because we’ve been in Chile, visiting our son and his wife in Santiago and doing a bit of birding into the bargain. Full coverage of our trip will appear in my other blog, starting with this post Chile 2016 Introduction.

The weather this morning took me by surprise,  being mid November I’d expected it to be much colder – my neighbour tells me that the over-night temperature was 11 degrees! There are still plenty of leafs on the trees but they are finally beginning to turn yellow and fall.

Today was the first WeBS count of Felbrigg Lake – part of a national survey of wetlands, organised by the BTO. I’ve been surprised that the lake has never previously been included and I was pleased to respond to the BTO’s request to correct the omission. Todays count (a little late because of our holiday) was generally an unspectacular affair, but with over a hundred Teal being the highlight.

Other sightings of interest included a steady passage of Starlings west, a nice male Bullfinch up the lane and the Kingfisher at the lake.