Aylmerton Nature Diary

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Sunday 30th April


One of two Ring Ouzel in Felbrigg Park this morning, with another three in the horse paddocks at Aylmerton, first thing – a bit of an Ouzel-fest!


Now that’s more like it! Three superb male Ring Ouzel on the horse paddocks, behind the allotments (this is a private site, view only from Church Road). Thanks to Lee, who reported them yesterday afternoon. In Felbrigg Park, two Wheatear, one initially on the stone wall by Weaver’s Way, the other on the rough grazing meadow south of the track. Both males and therefore different from yesterday’s birds. Also in the same location, a Ring Ouzel – with a second bird seen briefly, later in the morning, in hawthorns, east of the lake. The Egyptian Geese appear to have lost all their youngsters, but on the plus side, the Mute Swan brought eight cygnets on to the lake this morning. There were three male Mandarin and a pair of Tufted Duck on the lake as well. Several Whitethroats seen around Aylmerton, Felbrigg and Sustead.

The pair of Mute Swan, with eight youngsters in tow


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Saturday 29th April


Lapwing on the water meadow – apparently they’ve already lost a chick

I went down to Felbrigg Park early to see if the recent spell of improved weather had allowed a few more migrants in. The only addition for me, over the day before, were three female Wheatear in the grazing meadow, south of the Weaver’s Way. Richard & Di reported a singing Reed Warbler in the reed bed, along with the Sedge Warblers, and Lee had three Ring Ouzel in the afternoon, from the allotments. There were a couple of male Mandarin and a pair of Tufted Duck on the lake and the Little Owl was in the Ash tree below the dam. The Egyptian Geese have managed to hang on to three young and I could see at least one cygnet in the Mute Swan nest. The Lapwing have not been so lucky though – apparently they’ve already lost a chick to the Grey Heron. Still no Cuckoo..

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Friday 28th April


Sedge Warbler, Felbrigg Lake

An excellent late afternoon walk around the lake. Plenty of hirundine, hawking insects – at least 20 Sand Martin, eight Swallow and four House Martin. On the lake, two male Mandarin, a few Gadwall still and a Cormorant. The Mute Swan have hatched – I counted five youngsters, some of which look possibly to be ‘polish’ but it’s difficult to see them through the reeds. There were a couple of Sedge Warbler singing in the reed bed, the pair of Lapwing still on the water meadow and a solitary Snipe. The pair of Egyptian Geese have three youngsters still. Best of all, and despite the unseasonably cold weather recently, a newly emerged Common Blue Damselfly – my first of the year.

Male teneral, Common Blue Damselfly


Mute Swan, with at least five cygnets




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Wednesday 26th April


Pair of Treecreeper, western edge of Felbrigg Lake

We had hail and showers on and off for most of the morning. Despite the cold air temperature and biting cold north-westerly, I took a spin around the lake late afternoon. I was pleased to see that the Lapwing pair were sitting tight on the water meadow and slightly surprised that at least one Snipe remains. On the lake the pair of Mandarin were along the western edge, as was the Grey Wagtail, but no sight or sound of Little Grebe or the Tufted Duck, which appear to have moved on again. There were eight Swallows hawking insects over the eastern edge of the lake and resting on the wire fence. The usual assortment of Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Marsh Tit, Chiffchaff and Blackcap were between the back gate and the lake, but nothing out of the ordinary.

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Sunday 23rd April


One of a pair of Stock Dove in the garden – a ‘first’

We’ve had our birding friends Bob & Sue to stay for the weekend, so it’s been a busy time. Friday evening we had a quick walk into Felbrigg. Saturday morning we met up with folks from my old bird club and had a walk around Cley NWT, followed by an afternoon at Happisburgh, looking for Shorelark – which we found, but only by looking along the entire coastline, after they were disturbed from the light-house field by tractors. Yesterday was an extended walk around the parish, via Sustead Common. There wasn’t a great deal of birding action but we did managed to find a few things. At Cley the best we could manage was a Spoonbill, Whimbrel and, of non-birding interest, a Harbour Porpoise. We did find a Whitethroat in Felbrigg – not before time, but it had moved off by the following morning. After Bob & Sue had departed, I got a call from Phil saying he’d found a couple of male Ring Ouzel in the park! They were still there by the time I got down there, thank goodness. On the lake there were three Little Grebe – we’d heard one singing in the morning, along with a splendid pair of Mandarin (morning only) looking extremely broody. The other birding high-light of the weekend was a pair of Stock Dove feeding under my bird table – first time I’ve ever had these lovely doves in the garden. Tim & Dawn report a couple of Wheatear on the potato fields south of the village and four House Martin, back near the bus stop – so finally spring migration appears to be happening in earnest.

One of two, male Ring Ouzel in Felbrigg Park


Broody Mandarin on the lake


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Wednesday 19th April


Swallows return to the village yesterday – one of three, The Street

Monday was Cley NWT day, yesterday was mostly spent preparing for and putting up the interpretive signs at the pond and this morning was the NENBC mid-week walk in Felbrigg Park. There’s still very little change in bird life in the park but I was pleased to see the arrival of the ‘resident’ Swallows in the village yesterday. There were three sitting on the wires down The Street this morning.

Part of the flock of forty Fieldfare – rough grazing meadow, north of the water meadow


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Saturday 15th April


Male Mandarin, Felbrigg Lake – my first in 2017!

At last – after 105 days of the New Year, I see my first Mandarin on Felbrigg Lake! A pair were close to the western edge before swimming out into the centre of the lake. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to see them. Also, over the lake, half a dozen Sand Martin and four Swallow, hawking for insects. On the water meadow, the pair of Oystercatcher, three Gadwall, a handful of Teal and two Grey Heron. There were several pairs of Linnet around the gorse bushes on The Warren. The continuing run of cold north-westerlies is really beginning to hold things up – no Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler or Cuckoo yet!

A nice shot of Grey Heron over the Water Meadow


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Wednesday 12th April


Lapwing, Felbrigg water meadow – possible breeding pair?

A had a walk round the Felbrigg estate yesterday lunchtime and again early this morning, looking for migrants. There was a single Swallow, hawking over the cattle in the field north of the water meadow and three Sand Martin over the lake, ahead of a rain shower, this morning. A male Blackcap is holding territory in bushes at the south east end of the lake and I saw a pair of Gadwall climbing down from the bank – they looked like they might be nest-site prospecting. There was a Marsh Tit near the informal feeders along the western edge of the lake. The pair of Lapwing are still on the water meadow and there was a pair of Oystercatcher along the dam wall. Yesterday, I heard a Little Grebe ‘singing’ from somewhere in the reed-bed. Still no other summer migrants yet – where are the Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, etc?

Oystercatcher, along the dam wall


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Monday 10th April


Adder on Kelling Heath

We’ve had Neil, a birding friend, to stay over the weekend, so I’ve been more off the patch than on it. We had a good walk around Felbrigg and Sustead on Saturday afternoon – the Wheatear at Stone Cross being the most interesting bird. Yesterday it was WeBS count but there was very little in the way of wildfowl or waders. We did manage to get on to Kelling Heath mid-morning and caught up with Dartford Warbler, Woodlark, Willow Warbler and Lesser Redpoll. Late morning we managed to see the Ring Ouzel at West Runton, along with more Wheatear and a Yellow Wagtail. In the afternoon we achieved a spectacular ‘double-dip’ – went to Breydon Water to look for the Kentish Plover, which we missed by seconds and, shortly after, received the news that the party of seven Crane, which we’d missed at Sheringham in the morning, had flown over Aylmerton and Felbrigg in the afternoon! Gnash – but well done Tim & Dawn.

One of eight or more Lesser Redpoll on Kelling Heath




and male Ring Ouzel, in the animal paddocks at West Runton!


A day volunteering at Cley NWT today.