Aylmerton Nature Diary


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Saturday 19th August

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There are still plenty of Common Darter around the village

Following Lee’s sighting of Greenshank on Mallett’s Meadow on Thursday afternoon, I went for an early morning walk yesterday to see if it might still be lurking in the area. Alas, it wasn’t, but I did see a few things of interest nevertheless. A fresh-looking Whitethroat was in the hedge along Red Barn Lane, whilst a single Swift – possibly a lingering local bird, was over the village. Once in the park things quietened down until I reached the lake. There was a rather tatty looking Reed Warbler in Boat-house Bay and the Little Owl was in the usual Ash tree below the dam briefly, before jumping back into cover when it saw me approaching. There were several Green Woodpecker and Nuthatch calling at various points on my route and a couple of Chiffchaff around the water meadow.


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Wednesday 16th August

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Record shot of the Glossy Ibis at Salthouse

Monday I was at Cley all day. There were plenty of birds about, including a handsome adult Glossy Ibis, on the flash behind the duck pond at Salthouse. This constituted my 200th bird in Norfolk this year – rather a modest achievement compared with previous years but I seem to have been busy on other things recently, Sustead Common to name but one! Spent most of Tuesday and this morning getting the path across the Common back to a useable state after the digger and the rain of last week. Finally got the path re-opened at lunchtime. This afternoon I did the National Trust bird walk around Felbrigg. Several nice dragonflies, but very few birds indeed – Little Owl being the highlight.


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Saturday 12th August

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Little Owl, in it’s usual spot

It’s been a busy week and, as a consequence, I’ve not been in the park for a few days. There wasn’t much new happening on the lake but I did noticed half a dozen juvenile Moorhen and a Reed Warbler was ‘croaking’ from the reed-bed. As I approached the south east corner of the lake a Green Sandpiper, flushed by an approaching dog walker, called briefly before disappearing from view. The Little Owl was in it’s usual spot and along the shelter-belt a family party of Chiffchaff. Nine House Martin, with a single Sand Martin, were hawking for insects at the edge of the water meadow.


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Wednesday 9th August

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The new winter flooding scrape at Sustead Common

An amazing amount of rain over the last 24 hours has meant very little birding I’m afraid. Monday was spent volunteering on the reserve at Cley, Tuesday began bright and early with an NENBC coordinated sea-watch at Happisburgh – high-lights of which included five Common Sandpiper along the beach, Arctic Skua, a nice flock of noisy Whimbrel and loads of Gannet. Then it was on to Sustead, where the rest of the day and most of today has been spent watching the creation of our winter flooding scrape and tidying up afterwards. For a fuller account of yesterday’s events follow this link.


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Sunday 6th August

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At last! – not one but two female/immature Mandarin, Felbrigg Lake

The weather was perfect this morning – sunny with no wind, and there was plenty of stuff to catch my attention. First of which being a distant calling Quail, as soon as I set foot down The Street. I couldn’t decide if it was coming from up towards the pond or perhaps from Mallett’s Meadow. Further down The Street a post-breeding gathering of eighteen Swallow on the telephone wires. On my return home most were still there, with a couple of the local Swift still, hawking insects above them. Once in the park  the wildlife interest continued – four Cormorant headed steadily north west and by the time I’d reached the lake, I saw another five roosting in the usual trees near the viewing screen. There was one juvenile amongst them. I slowly scanned the lake, initially only finding Mallard, but eventually I spotted the long expected Mandarin, preening under the Cormorants. I looked back from Boat House Bay, where I’d stopped to watch a Reed Warbler collecting food, when I noticed that the first Mandarin had been joined by a second. They were both female or immature types but they were too distant to tell. The Little Owl was sunning itself in the Ash tree below the dam and I watched eleven Mistle Thrush gradually alight in the tall Beech, near the viewing screen. There was a single Spotted Flycatcher feeding in the Alders and a Chiffchaff in full song, further along the track. Not a bad mornings entertainment!

A post-breeding gathering of Swallow on the wires, down The Street

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Saturday 5th August

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Record shot of Baird’s Sandpiper, Potter Heigham -showing squat posture and distinct pec band (between the Dunlin and Avocet)

A phone call from Phil at lunchtime was enough to tempt me ‘out of area’, to Potter Heigham, for a rare North American wader,  Baird’s Sandpiper. We parked-up at the marina and began walking east along the river bank. After about a mile we were not seeing any other birders and began to think that we were in the wrong location! Scanning with the binoculars we could see a few folk, several fields away, with telescopes and made the assumption that they must be in the right place. We headed in their direction and were within five minutes of the bird when the heavens opened – we were drowned before we reached the location! Fortunately the Baird’s Sandpiper was still in the same spot, even if visibility in the pouring rain was poor. Eventually the bird flew off with Dunlin, landing at the back of the scrape – giving more open but distant views.

Another record shot, showing the pear-shaped posture to good effect

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