Aylmerton Nature Diary

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Friday 29th June


Common Tern at Felbrigg – a new bird for me

After several days of non-birding, mostly doing Felbeck Trust stuff and getting ready for next weeks bike ride, following the NCN 1 from North Yorkshire to home, I finally got in to the park this afternoon. Unfortunately someone had turned off the sun, so my hope of catching up with the recently reported Norfolk Hawkers, was rapidly extinguished. As I strolled towards the lake, with a cold north-east breeze blowing and the sea fret rolling in, I fancied a wader, possibly a Curlew – there were plenty moving along the coast on Monday. Having crossed the bridge over the top sluice, I scanned the lake and immediately noticed a distant ‘white bird’ near the dam, assuming it was probably a Black-headed Gull. However, on closer examination, it turned out to be a Common Tern. A Felbrigg tick and an Aylmerton Nature Diary tick as well – bringing my AND total to 153. Remarkably, this is only the fourth reported record of Common Tern at Felbrigg – you might assume that it would be far more frequent, but it isn’t. I called a couple of the local guys and Lee managed to catch up with it, but not before it did one of it’s occasional disappearing acts. A great way to end the week and a good bird to find before this temporary break in posting – back at the weekend.

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Monday 25th June


Ringlet – Felbrigg Park this afternoon

Yesterdays Open Day at Sustead Common & Spurrell’s Wood was a great success. We had 35-40 visitors and raised over £130 in donations – every little helps! Today we were at Cley NWT most of the day where, for me, the birding highlights were a steady movement of Curlew west – 156 in total, in small groups along the coast, and a Brent Goose on North Scrape late morning. I managed a quick circuit of Felbrigg Lake on my return home. A singing Lesser Whitethroat in the hedge opposite Sawmill Cottage, a fresh emergence of Ringlet butterfly, a couple of Brown Hawker dragonfly over the reed-bed and the two hybrid Tufted x Ferruginous Duck on the pond, above the water meadow, were the wildlife highlights.

A superb Southern Hawker – still present for ourSustead Common Open Day


On a more sombre note – recently deceased Badger along the A148, near Felbrigg Great Wood. I see very few dead badgers in North Norfolk – less than one a year. Very sad


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Saturday 23rd June


iPhone photo of recently rediscovered colony of Common Spotted Orchid – Sustead RNR

Apart from Wednesday – Felbrigg Park walks day, I’ve spent most of this week doing stuff in preparation for tomorrows Open Day at Sustead Common / Spurrell’s Wood. That’ll teach me for going away for two months during the growing season! Fortunately we have a dedicated core of volunteers and between us we’ve managed to get most of the work done. It does feel like the whole thing is really coming together as a project – see the most recent Felbeck Trust blog post. As a consequence, there have been few opportunities to do any birding – the highlights of the week being the ‘Cromer Crow’ and a Hobby, which I had the pleasure of watching from my kitchen window yesterday, whilst doing the washing-up. Other notable wildlife encounters have, not surprisingly, all come from Sustead Common – a rediscovered colony of Common Spotted Orchid along the Roadside Nature Reserve, a Common Shrew (dead I’m afraid) – an addition to the Sustead Common Mammal List and a fabulous Four-spotted Chase dragonfly, resting on the Knapweed in the wild flower meadow.

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Wednesday 20th June


Otter at Felbrigg Lake – seen on the NENBC mid-week walk (photo courtesy Nick Kimber)

Today was ‘bird walk’ day in Felbrigg – NENBC mid-week walk this morning and National Trust ‘Bird Walk’ this afternoon. Nothing particularly noteworthy, bird-wise, on either but, at a guess, I saw 45 species combined on the two walks. The undoubted highlight this morning was good, prolonged, views by the whole group of an Otter, devouring a large fish! Still plenty of froglets about by the lake but nothing like the numbers yesterday. Late afternoon, after a tip-off email from Tim, I took a trip to Cromer cliff-top carpark to see the Pied Crow – a sub-Saharan species, of unknown origins.

Pied Crow – it’s on my list 😉




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Tuesday 19th June


Frog-fest at Felbrigg – thousands of froglets are on the loose around the lake. There are over eighty in this (iPhone photo) alone. Mind where you step!

It was a Felbeck Trust work-party this morning, preparing for our Sustead Common (Spurrell’s Wood) Open Day, this coming Sunday. However, I did manage to get into the park, early evening. The pair of Egyptian Geese were on the water-meadow, with a several House Martin and Swift, hawking insects over-head. On the lake a female Mallard with her young brood of seven chicks. Biggest surprise of my walk was a family party of Lesser Whitethroat, in the much reduced Hawthorn hedge, south of the dam. Given the apparently low numbers of our more common summer visitors this year, seeing this species, with a full grown brood of youngsters, was most unexpected.

Lesser Whitethroat, Felbrigg Lake


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Sunday 17th June



Grey Heron examines the remains of a young Greylag, I think

It was later than usual when I set off to Felbrigg to do my June WeBS count. Given the general lack of wildfowl at the moment, I don’t think it mattered much though! A few Greylag –  the youngsters from earlier in the week appear to have succumbed to some prey or another, a dozen Mallard, one Tufted x Ferruginous hybrid, a few Moorhen and the family of Mute Swan was about it. I did see more woodland species, with several additions to my earlier IoRA survey – Treecreeper, Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker. On my way back home, an obliging juvenile Chiffchaff allowed close observation.

Good to see the first successful fledgling Chiffchaff of the year


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Thursday 14th June


Record shot of a rather unexpected pair of Shoveler – Felbrigg Lake, found on IoRA survey

I did my NENBC Index of Relative Abundance (IoRA), quarter 2, survey of Felbrigg Park this afternoon. A little late but worthwhile nonetheless. Thirty five species in total – most of it regular stuff but with a couple of surprises. A pair of Shoveler on the lake was unexpected, as was the Marsh Tit calling in the wood -they’re usually difficult to find at this time of the year, and an Oystercatcher over the sheep-pastures.


Wednesday 13th June


Family party of Mute Swan – Felbrigg Lake. No ‘Polish’ youngsters this year though

A day later than I’d originally intended but getting sorted after our long trip away has taken a little longer than expected. Anyway, back on ‘the patch’ at last. It was the tail-end of winter when I last walked around Felbrigg. Today it seemed like mid-summer. There was evidence of breeding wildlife practically everywhere. A pair of Red Kite over Felbrigg Lodge were, perhaps rather oddly engaged in display behaviour – indicating that they might be sub-adult or non-breeders. Once in the park proper three adult Egyptian Geese were chasing each other around the water meadow. No sign of any youngsters though. There were however three juveniles amongst the dozen Greylags. On the lake there was a family party of six Mute Swan, the two adults with four’ regular’ cygnets – no sign of any ‘Polish’ off-spring this year. The only other wildfowl were twelve Mallard, again all adult, three Moorhen and the two Tufted x Ferruginous hybrids. Over the lake there was a sub-adult Common Gull and a single House Martin. Chiffchaff and Blackcap were singing in the western shelter-belt. The best bird was, undoubtably, a Hobby, which put in a brief appearance over the water meadow. Butterfly interest was restricted to Red Admiral, Meadow Brown, Speckled Wood and a single Painted Lady, whilst there were several Emperor dragonflies hawking over the lake, along with a probable Broad-bodied Chaser and a ‘swarm’ of Common Blue Damselfly.

A terrible record shot of Hobby between the water meadow and lake


and finally, the habitat destruction on Aylmerton Common is now complete!


It’s good to be back…

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Normal service resuming shortly


One of the very last birds we added to our GABRAT trip list was Red Knot, seen here (in summer plumage) with Grey Plover. There’s a sense of coming full circle with these birds – they occur regularly in Norfolk and both have been seen at Felbrigg!

Today we fly back from Seattle to England at the end of our Great American Birding RoAd Trip. In the two months we’ve been away we’ve driven over eight thousand miles, through seven States – from the Gulf of Mexico to Vancouver Island, following the birds on their northerly migration. For highlights of each days adventure please visit TrevorOnTour. By Tuesday I hope to be back on ‘the patch’, seeing what changes have occurred around the parish, Felbrigg and Sustead Common. Looking at the records on North East Norfolk Bird Club website it appears to have been a fairly quiet Spring / Summer so far and, thank goodness, I don’t appear to have missed anything particularly rare on ‘the patch’. I can’t wait to get looking…