Aylmerton Nature Diary

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Thursday 31st August

New header image. I’ve just received the artist’s permission to use his superb water-colour, titled Late Summer by the Old Oak, Felbrigg, on the blog – it’s of one of my favourite locations in the whole park. You’ll be able to see the complete painting in our forthcoming illustrated Birds of Felbrigg , due out at the end of the year. Or why not go along to John’s show at Blakeney 2nd– 8th September.

I can’t believe it’s very nearly September!

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Tuesday 29th August


Willow Emerald – Aylmerton village pond

I wandered down to the village pond just before lunch today in the hope of finding Willow Emerald and, sure enough, I did. Not just one but three – bingo! Willow Emerald, until recent years a rare damselfly in Norfolk, first put in an appearance at the pond last summer. The habitat at the pond, with it’s over-hanging oak trees and vegetated margins, is ideal for this species and testimony, perhaps, to the habitat management work done there over the past few years. There was a late Swift lingering over the pond whilst I waited for the damselfly to appear.

Meanwhile in Felbrigg, late afternoon, a fresh arrival of Gadwall – ten including two males, a Grey Wagtail on the beck and the mixed hirundine feeding flock, over the oaks east of the water meadow, contained at least two Sand Martin.

Grey Wagtail on the out-flow


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Monday 28th August


Painted Lady – feeding at an Aylmerton flower border

Just a couple of photos missed from yesterday. A nice Painted Lady on a neighbours flower border and a record shot of the Green Sandpiper at Felbrigg – present for the past three weeks.

Grab shot of the Green Sandpiper, over Felbrigg Lake yesterday


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Sunday 27th August


Two of the five Greenshank on a muddy pool in Gresham!

Spent the morning, in the company of Matthew and Bob & Sue, ‘beating the bounds’ – a 13.5k walk, in increasingly warm weather, around the parish boundary. Full report in a future blog post. The highlights of the day though have been the ever-present Hobby along the western perimeter of the park – up to three there this evening, the Green Sandpiper still commuting between the lake and Scarrow Beck, and eventually tracking down a proper Willow Emerald – courtesy of Simon.. again! The evening was nicely finished off with two of the reported five Greenshank, in a damp depression in a farmers field at Gresham! I understand that we have Anne to thank for this excellent inland record – well done!!

Willow Emerald – you’ll have to look hard!



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Friday 25th August


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Red-veined Darter – Felbrigg Park

Another afternoon stint in the park with grandson Patrick. First bird we saw was a lone Golden Plover flying north up The Street. Further along the lane, Blackcaps in the hedge and a Marsh Tit calling from nearer The Woodyard. Once in the park the clear blue skies produced a single Buzzard and a distant circling raptor which struck me as a large accipiter – poor photos are less than conclusive, but some features suggest possible Goshawk. No sign of yesterdays Gadwall or Mandarin but two Teal on the small pond, north of the water meadow, might be the first returning winter birds. The family party of Spotted Flycatcher were still in the oaks east of the lake. Here I bumped into Simon where we compared notes on various bits of wildlife. I asked him about Red-veined Darter, which he’d not seen since the Spring and I told him about the Green Sandpiper which has been favouring the Weaver’s Way crossing point over Scarrow Beck. He headed off in that direction and, minutes later, called me over, having discovered a freshly emerged Red-veined Darter!!

Grab shot of Golden Plover – my first of the autumn, heading north up The Street


Another shot of Red-veined Darter, Felbrigg Park – found by Simon (who else!)


Distant shots of large accipiter over Felbrigg village – some features suggesting possible Goshawk?





Thursday 24th August


The best two ducks on Felbrigg lake this afternoon – female/imm Mandarin & male Gadwall

Three hours in the park this afternoon, in the company of Patrick, one of my grandsons. We had a great time – him playing on the dead oaks by the lake, me bird-watching! A couple of Little Owl, female/immature Mandarin, a pair of Gadwall and a lone Chiffchaff in Boat-house Bay being the birding high-lights. After my damselfly id faux pas yesterday I was relieved not to encounter anything out of the ordinary – plenty of the common damselfly still along the dam wall, with good numbers of Southern Hawker and a couple each of Brown Hawker and Black-tailed Skimmer.

I did come across these spidery guys though, no idea what they are – id comments welcomed! Post Script:  from James – The spiders are Tetragnatha sp (large-jawed orb weavers). The most likely one is Tetragnatha extensa…



Wednesday 23rd August


Not a possible female Willow Emerald as I’d hoped but a female Banded Demoiselle! Thanks James for the very helpful comments.. 

Not so much about, compared with yesterday, but still plenty of interest between Felbrigg and Sustead. The adult Hobby was again over the western edge of the park, as I walked through to Sustead Common. With birds present since 7th May and regularly reported in the same area throughout the summer, I strongly suspect that they bred close-by. At the dam there were plenty of Damselfly including both ‘Red-eyes’, Common Blue and what I thought was a possible Willow Emerald  – turned out to be a female Banded Demoiselle! No sign of the Green Sandpiper on the out-flow on my way out or on my return but the family party of Spotted Flycatcher – definitely three juveniles, possibly four, were still around the Oaks on the eastern edge of the lake.