Aylmerton Nature Diary

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Wednesday 28th February


Woke this morning to a thick blanket of snow and below freezing temperatures. If this doesn’t bring in the winter wildfowl and Waxwing, nothing will.

Being the last day of February, today is the final opportunity to vote in the Eco Hero Awards. If you haven’t already voted, then please do, by visiting this link Thank you.


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Saturday 24th February


You ain’t seen me… right!

It was third time lucky for me in the Glaven Valley this afternoon, as the regularly reported Bittern appeared from down stream and gradually made it’s way to relatively open water, just north of Natural Surroundings. It’s not uncommon to see Bittern in winter – they are often more obliging than breeding birds. This individual is particularly showy.

Some more shots of this obliging Bittern in the Glaven Valley



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Friday 23rd February


Record shot of this mornings Hawfinch – in my haste I forgot to check the camera settings!

I was stood looking out of my kitchen window this morning when I spotted an unfamiliar shape in the trees behind my neighbours garden. I reached for my binoculars and I was delighted to see a Hawfinch  – déjà vu from last winter! It looked like a female and is possibly the same bird that has been in Felbrigg up until about a week ago.

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Thursday 22nd February


Siskin, taken on a previous occasion – not one of the 150+ yesterday, at Hanworth

Our day at Cley NWT was brought to a premature end on Monday by persistent mizzle and thickening fog in the afternoon, rendering birdwatching virtually impossible. Tuesday it rained here all day, so I spent the time looking through thousands of photos for additional images to illustrate our forthcoming Birds of Felbrigg. It’s looking pretty reasonable now, with species accounts of the 220 birds recorded in the Park and immediate area, plenty of photos and illustrations from a variety of sources, an introduction to the habitat management work of the National Trust and a Forword by their Director General! We have to get it to the printers by the end of the month to be available for Easter. Yesterday it was the NENBC mid-week walk, which included a short diversion to Sustead Common, to show members the site and the work Felbeck Trust has been doing there. In the afternoon, on the way back through Hanworth Common, I spotted a ‘swarm’ of small birds in the Alders, just as you leave the village. I thought, given the numbers, that they must be Goldfinch but looking through the binoculars they were clearly Siskin. There must have been 150 – probably more!

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Sunday 18th February


The scene at Sustead Common yesterday, during the live broadcast on Radio Norfolk

It was the Felbeck Trust / NENBC National Nest-box event yesterday at Sustead Common. The day started with a live broadcast on Radio Norfolk and after a cold and foggy start the weather was sunny with clear blue skies throughout. We had a steady stream of visitors, managed to exceed our target by constructing and erecting over 60 boxes in Spurrell’s Wood and raised £670 for our appeal. Not a bad effort – my thanks go to all those who supported the event in any way. Although we were otherwise occupied throughout the day we did managed to get great views of a Woodcock, in the glow of the late afternoon sun – flushed when we went to instal one of the last few boxes!

The nest-box production-line, taken during a much-earned tea-break


It’s not too late to sponsor a nest-box for £20 – just email enquiry@felbecktrust.org.uk

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Friday 16th February


Blue Tit using nest-box at Sustead Common last year

It’s National Nest-box Week and we’re making final preparations for our joint Felbeck Trust / North East Norfolk Bird Club event at Sustead Common tomorrow, from ten till three. Our aim is to make and erect 50 nest-boxes in Spurrell’s Wood, hopefully raising money for our appeal in the process. Nest-boxes are a simple way to provide additional choice of nesting places for birds like Blue, Great and Coal Tit, Robin, Pied Wagtail and House Sparrow. Nowadays we keep the countryside and our gardens much ‘cleaner and tidier’, which means that there are fewer natural nest-sites for the birds. At Spurrell’s Wood, which is a relatively new woodland, nest-boxes are essential to provide sufficient places for the birds to nest. Nest-boxes are also used by birds like Wren as a places of safety to roost during the winter. At Sustead Common last year they also provided a home for Tree Bumblebee – a recent Norfolk colonist!

If you have a free hour tomorrow, come along and see us in action. We’re mid-way along the road between Sustead village green and Aylmerton Field Study Centre.

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Wednesday 14th February


Egyptian Goose on the water meadows at Felbrigg yesterday

Had my last walk out into the park with grandson Patrick before he went back home yesterday. It was still bitterly cold in the wind – more sheltered in the cafe though! Still no real change on the bird front but I was interested to see that the number of Coot on the lake has doubled – to two! The lone Egyptian Goose was on the water meadow. Normally by this time they would be breeding – Egyptian Geese have never really re-set their biological clocks since being introduced into Britain a couple of centuries ago, they must still think that they are in the Med. This one lost it’s mate at the end of last year and has obviously failed to attract another.

Coot numbers have doubled – to two!