Aylmerton Nature Diary

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Break in transmission

There is going to be a temporary break in transmission on Aylmerton Nature Diary. Normal services will not be resumed until on or about 12th June. In the meantime you can find some alternative and, hopefully, interesting content on TrevorOnTour

Just to whet your appetite, here’s one of the more common species I hope to be featuring

Summer Tanager

Summer Tanager – Lost Maples, Texas State Natural Area, 2009

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Friday 13th April

IMG_4300First Willow Warbler in Felbrigg this morning – this species has become a scarce passage migrant in the park nowadays 

We’ve been cloaked in mist and drizzle since before the weekend but, despite the weather, Spring migrants are still managing to creep in. This morning I had my first singing Willow Warbler in Felbrigg – between the viewing screen and the dam. It was briefly joined by another phyllos, which may have been a second individual or, possibly, a territorial Chiffchaff. It was WeBS count day today (which I’m doing early), the highlights of which were three Little Grebe, two Tufted x Ferruginous hybrids in with the Tufteds and two Oystercatcher which landed on the water meadow. There were a couple of Swallow hawking over the lake and a noticeable ‘passage’ of Meadow Pipit – I counted at least 27 going through. There’s still a large mixed flock of Redwing (60), Starling and Fieldfare (5) between the lake and the Hall and a group of gulls on the sheep pastures, including 60 Common still, a few Herring and, interestingly, three Lesser Black-backed’s. A single Hawfinch was in the trees behind the stable block. The Roe Deer are getting bolder all the time, I watched four feeding this morning at close-quarters.

Roe Deer, nonchalantly feeding with it’s head through the barbed wire! 


Post Script: Simon took this photo of a superb a male Stonechat at Felbrigg today, it’s sporting a number of characteristics of rubicola – the mainland European race.


I did see the bird this morning – honest! but I was in a bit of a hurry to follow it up. Friday 13th, unlucky for some! Anyway, a nice Spring record Simon.

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Tuesday 10th April


Brambling, flushed from garden feeders, as I made my way down The Street

Highlight from Cley NWT yesterday, on an otherwise cold and damp day, included two Spoonbill, which flew east circling North Foreland Wood at mid-day, two adult Mediterranean Gull, barely visible through the morning mist, and a superb, near-summer plumaged Water Pipit, just outside Teal hide, mid-afternoon. This morning I walked through the park to a meeting at Spurrell’s Wood. As I reached the Oak trees, between the middle track to the lake and the Hall, there was a cacophony of sound rising out of the mist. As I looked, I could see a mixture of several hundred Starling, Redwing and Fieldfare, perched in the upper branches. I made my way towards the Stable Block and could see a lone bird sat atop a tree near the car park – it looked bigger in the mist than I was expecting but, nevertheless, it was a Hawfinch. As I scanned the trees behind the Hall I could see at least another four birds or so. Down at the lake I was struck by how few birds there were. Just a handful of Mallard, a few Moorhen, the pair of Mute Swan, seven Tufted – including one hybrid and, best of all, a pair of Little Grebe close to the edge of the reed-bed. Four Swallow were swooping over the water before heading off north east. On my way down the lane I flushed a handsome male Brambling from one of the garden feeders – there’s still plenty of these birds about, in isolated groups along the coastal belt.

Little Grebe, Felbrigg Lake – hopefully here to breed


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Sunday 8th April


Swallow returned to Park Hall Farm yesterday

The generally dismal weather has continued throughout the weekend. We did manage to get on to Sustead Common and Thwaite Common yesterday afternoon – seeing some nice birds. On the way there I was surprised to see a Swallow, sat on the wires at Park Hall Farm – presumably one of the returning ‘resident’ birds. I’d only just seen my first ‘migrant’ Swallow of the year, with the Loose-enders Group, at West Runton in the morning. On the drive over to Thwaite we found a pair of Grey Partridge near the church at Thurgarton and when we got there a singing Willow Warbler was a real bonus. This afternoon was the ‘official launch’ of The Birds of Felbrigg Park, up at the Hall. It drizzled on and off and was decidedly wintering  but, amazingly, up to six Hawfinch were on show for almost all of the time we were there! We sold £100 worth of books and recruited several new members to the Club, not a bad reward for our efforts.

Grey Partridge – in wheat field, Thurgarton


Willow Warbler singing on Thwaite Common


Today, at the official launch of The Birds of Felbrigg Park, up to six Hawfinch kept us entertained in the trees behind The Hall. iPhone record shot of just one, was all I could manage

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If you haven’t bought your copy yet you’d better get a hurry-up, they’re selling fast. Available to non-NENBC Members from Reception at Felbrigg Hall, priced £9.95. All profits go to Norfolk wildlife charity Felbeck Trust

Cover A4 PDF


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Friday 6th April


Nine Crane over Felbrigg Great Wood this morning – a Felbrigg ‘tick’ for me 

I went down to Felbrigg reasonably early this morning in the hope of getting better views of yesterdays Ring Ouzel at The Warren. Unfortunately, despite giving it over an hour, the bird failed to put in an appearance. I did manage to see a Sand Martin briefly over the lake before drifting off south and seven Common Snipe on the rough grazing meadow below the dam. On returning to The Warren, where a small group of birders had gathered, I glanced up at a flock of birds heading north west over the Great Wood. Initially thinking that they might be Cormorant, I quickly realised that they were Crane! A much-awaited Felbrigg ‘tick for me’, consequently an Aylmerton Nature Diary ‘tick’ – my 152nd since starting this blog and an NENBC ‘tick’ to boot. Not a bad morning!!

Sand Martin over the lake – a very late ‘first date’ for me at Felbrigg


A record shot of yesterdays Ring Ouzel at The Warren, taken from the north end of the Shelter Belt!


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Thursday 5th April


Mute Swan still on the nest at Felbrigg – despite the awful bank-holiday weather

I was busy with Felbeck Trust and allotment stuff up until mid-afternoon yesterday. A couple of people had reported both Swallow and Sand Martin from Felbrigg over the past  two days 😦 so, despite the imminent arrival of yet another heavy shower, I headed off for a quick whiz round. Predictably there were no obvious migrants to be seen and the lake was very quiet – just a dozen Tufted, a couple of pairs of Gadwall and the Pochard still. The female Mute Swan was still on her nest – she’s been there for the past ten days, despite the awful bank-holiday weather. As I got to The Warren I did come across some migrants – a group of eight Meadow Pipit, with three more over the water meadow – not quite what I was hoping for but interesting to se.e nonetheless. The Teal were busy and noisy on the water meadow – there’s still close on twenty left. On my way back up the lane I noticed a kettle of raptors over the edge of the Great Wood, drifting south – three Buzzard and three Red Kite.

Sundog over Aylmerton


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Tuesday 3rd April


Pochard, 2 males & a female – Felbrigg Lake. My first here in well over a year!

The Easter long weekend was a total wash-out, literally – it rained continuously for most of the four days. We did manage to get into the park briefly on Saturday afternoon but had to beat a hasty retreat when we got caught in a heavy downpour. As a consequence, very little has been achieved on the birding front. Things weren’t a lot better at Cley NWT yesterday, with constant drizzle and very few birds. A colour-ringed Great black-backed Gull – too distant for me to read the numbers but possibly the bird ringed in Southern Denmark in 2010 and later seen in Germany, was the high-light. Today has been the first dry weather for ages and I did manage a brief walk in Felbrigg. The undoubted high-light of which were the three Pochard – one female and two males, on the lake. My first here in well over a year. I was well pleased. Other birds of note included at least one Red Kite drifting over the Great Wood and Aylmerton Common, Little Grebe ‘singing’ near the reed-bed and a dozen or so Teal and Tufted – including one hybrid amongst them. Several Chiffchaff were singing around the estate but still no sign of any other Spring migrants!

Red Kite over Felbrigg Great Wood and Aylmerton Common