Aylmerton Nature Diary

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Sunday 29th July


Little Grebe on Felbrigg Lake – last seen in mid-April

In between preparations for the village fete yesterday and the event itself, I did manage a walk through Felbrigg, in the faint hope that the over-night storms might have produced something of interest. There were very few birds on the water-meadows – certainly no waders and not much more on the lake. The best bird being a winter plumage Little Grebe which, as I approached, flew from the south east corner towards the reed-bed. I’ve not seen one here since mid-April. Whilst I was watching it from the dam wall a rather tatty Purple Hairstreak kept me entertained in the Walnut tree above. A few Sand Martin, together with the resident House Martins and Swifts were over the lake. On the way back home a Tawny Owl called loudly from village gardens along The Street.

Not a view you often get of Little Grebe


A rather tatty Purple Hairstreak in the Walnut tree along the dam


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Friday 27th July


Common Blue – Felbrigg

It’s been a busy few days, what with the NWT Dragonfly id workshop on Tuesday and footbridge construction and erection on Wednesday – see this link. In between times, I have managed a couple of outings into the park, where the main interest has again been on insects. The second emergence of Holly Blue is underway – I’ve seen them in reasonable numbers, down the lane, in the park and at Sustead Common. For comparison, I did manage a photo of Common Blue in Felbrigg yesterday and I did see my first Red-eyed Damselfly of the season at the lake. Bird interest has again mostly centred on the lake. With a Green Sandpiper in Boathouse Bay and a small group of Teal, which made a brief stop-over yesterday morning. I missed Mark’s two female-type Mandarin, which he reported in the evening, though. Today, it’s preparation for the Aylmerton village fete, where the Bird Club and Felbeck Trust have a stand – do stop by tomorrow and see us, 3.00 – 7.00.

Holly Blue – with it’s much plainer, ink-splattered, underwing. The Street, Aylmerton


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Tuesday 24th July


A pair of Common Emerald doing the business, Upton Fen

We spent the weekend helping move one of our sons and his partner into their new home near Huntingdon. Managed to get back for Carol’s ‘significant number’ birthday party and spent a lot of the evening watching a ‘flutter’ of Purple Hairstreak in Phil’s neighbours garden. Yesterday was our Cley NWT day – plenty of waders coming and going but no sign of the Temminck’s Stint that had been present over the previous few days. This morning I had a quick walk around the lake – little of any real wildlife interest to report. This afternoon I attended a dragonfly identification workshop at Upton Fen, run by Dr Pam Taylor, as part of the NWT’s Wildlife in Common training programme. We managed to find and identify ten different species.

 Male Ruddy Darter at Upton Fen – note the all dark legs


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Thursday 19th July


Female Common Darter, Felbrigg Park

Yesterday was the NENBC mid-week walk. We had 40+ bird species, the best of which was the family party of Spotted Flycatcher, in the wooded area west of the lake. There was no sign of the three, possibly four, Green Sandpiper I’d had over the lake on Tuesday evening. This morning, again no Sandpipers – the only real interest coming in the form of wildfowl /water birds. There was a female Tufted Duck – replacing the male of a couple of days ago, two eclipse Teal and a squealing Water Rail in the reed-bed. This is the third successive year that Water Rail have been recorded in the summer months, but we still don’t have firm evidence of breeding. Still plenty of insects about, with more Gatekeeper emerging and an increasing number of Common Darter. I saw my first Common Blue of 2018 on the mid-week walk and a couple more sightings of Purple Hairstreak around the Oaks near The Woodyard, on the walk home.

One of two eclipse Teal on Felbrigg lake – an uncommon visitor at this time of year


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Tuesday 17th July


A very smart looking Lesser Yellowlegs at Titchwell yesterday evening

It was a good day at Cley NWT yesterday, albeit that we didn’t have anything particularly unusual in the bird line. Thirteen species of wader, Spoonbill, Water Rail, Bearded Tit and Yellow Wagtail all maintaining the interest of visitors. However, it was a late afternoon dash to Titchwell, courtesy of Phil, which produced the birding highlights of the day for me. The Lesser Yellowlegs made a welcome reappearance, with a supporting cast of Spotted Redshank and Curlew Sandpiper – a nice end to the day. I’ve seen a few ‘legs’ in Norfolk but none as well marked as this bird.

Another couple of shots of this confiding bird




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Monday 16th July


Common Sandpiper at Felbrigg Lake, Sunday afternoon

It’s been quite a weekend for wildlife. Yesterday afternoon, after watching the craziest stage of the Tour de France I’ve think I’ve ever seen – multiple crashes on and off the pavé, I ventured back into the park to see if the Lesser Emperor was performing. I spent about an hour on the dam with Simon & Andy but it was a ‘no show’ on this occasion. It would be nice if it hung around until Wedneday – Felbrigg walks day. We did however get good views of Common Sandpiper, which appeared out of nowhere, did several circuits of the lake including trying to alight on the dam wall, before finally landing on ‘the island’. My first returning Autumn migrant at Felbrigg. On the way back through the shelter-belt I managed to relocate the elusive Spotted Flycatcher. We’ll see what Cley NWT has to offer today.

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Sunday 15th July


Spotted Flycatcher feeding young  – Felbrigg Park 🙂

At last… Spotted Flycatcher on my 2018 Felbrigg list!! It was my WeBS count this morning. A very smart Brown Hawker in the hedge near Sawmill Cottage was a bonus as I walked to the park. Nothing surprising on the duck count front – couldn’t find the Shoveler from yesterday and no repeat performance from the Little Egret, but that’s WeBS for you. The Lesser Emperor put it a brief appearance near the sluice, before being seen-off by a patrolling male Emperor. A pair of Banded Demoiselle was another addition to the local ‘drag list’. Then it was back to the eastern edge of the lake to take another look for the elusive Spotted Flycatchers. This time it was easy – an adult collecting insects at head-height, between the seat and the screen. Pheew!

Brown Hawker in the hedge – The Street. Much more common than the last two featured dragonflies but still quite a stunner.


A four inch Horse Leech in the lake kept up the interest whilst looking for the LE