Aylmerton Nature Diary


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Friday 26th October

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Little Owl at dusk, Felbrigg Park

I went back into the park on Wednesday, late afternoon. There’d been an unconfirmed sighting of NUTCRACKER over Cromer – the bird thought possibly to be heading in the Felbrigg direction! Needles and haystacks come to mind, but at least I made the effort! There is an historic record of Nutcracker in the park – back in the last ‘invasion year’ of 1968, and there has been a reported build-up of birds this autumn on the Continent, so it is possible. The only one I’ve seen in the UK was in deepest Staffordshire somewhere – the bird was so unbothered by it’s human admirers that, at one point, it walked between my tripod legs! Anyway, no Nutcracker on this occasion but I did see the Ring Ouzel on the water meadows again and, as dusk approached, Little Owl in the Oak by the dam, with Tawny Owl calling from Common Plantation and, on my way home, Barn Owl hunting over Aylmerton Common. Its been a while since I had a ‘three Owl’ day. Yesterday was given over to Bird Club stuff, culminating in our Indoor meeting and an excellent talk by our outside speaker Aldina Franco.

If you are in the park and come across this handsome guy – PLEASE do let me know! 

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Photo from the internet

 

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Wednesday 24th October

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Mediterranean Gull – 1st winter, over the sheep pastures, in front of Felbrigg Hall

Monday was a quiet day at Cley NWT. Yesterday I birded the coast locally, with friends, trying to catch up on the weekend’s bonanza. We managed two out of the three but the Brown Shrike turned out to be a one day wonder. We spent a couple of hours in the park in the afternoon with very little action until a 1st winter Mediterranean Gull flew over our heads, as we walked across the sheep fields.  This morning I had a meeting at Sustead Common so walked there and back through the park. Plenty of birds around including newly arrived flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing – up to a hundred on the fields above the water meadows, Meadow Pipits aplenty – at least 28 between the water meadows and the rough grazing below the dam, all the usual stuff on the lake – including the Wigeon and male Mandarin, and, best of all, Jack Snipe which took off from the edge of the Scarrow Beck near the Weaver’s Way crossing, quickly landing back near the outflow. If this is the same bird as in mid-September I can’t imagine where it’s been hiding. I also had another male Yellowhammer, in the hedge below the dam – second bird in a week.

Record shot of Jack Snipe

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Fieldfare and Redwing arriving in good numbers this morning

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Monday 22nd October

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Yellow-browed Wabler, The Street, Aylmerton

What a day it was yesterday! It was barely light when I walked down The Street towards Felbrigg. I’d just got to Sawmill Cottage when I heard a penetrating ‘psweet’ call – I’d heard it briefly the night before  but eventually dismissed it as probable Coal Tit. This time I was certain I knew what it was – a Yellow-browed Warbler. It was in the hedge opposite the cottage and showed well before flying back into the garden (I looked for it twice later on in the day but without success). The park itself was shrouded in mist and I couldn’t see across the lake – in consequence, the bird list was rather small. I’d got back home and was just entering my records on the NENBC website when I noticed a posting of ‘Red-backed Shrike at Weybourne’ – a bird which I needed for the area! It didn’t take me long to gather my things and head off. When I got to the spot the original finders where still there and told me that the bird had showed a couple of times since the first sighting – I was optimistic! The bird did appear briefly, practically in silhouette, but I was struck by how well marked the head was. I took a couple of record shots before heading off for the probable Todd’s Canada Goose (a rare form of Canada goose – breeds to the south and east of Hudson Bay and winters in south-eastern USA), which was seen flying east from the Cley roost and had been relocated in fields east of Weybourne. It was just visible on the skyline. At this point the news broke that the shrike had been re-identified as Brown Shrike – a super rare visitor from Siberia and a new bird for Norfolk I think. We returned in the afternoon to get much better (though still distant) views. A late afternoon visit to the park produced a number of ‘old favourites’ – Mandarin, Little Owl, Brambling, Water Rail etc., but nothing new. What a day – and I still need Red-backed Shrike for my NENBC list!

Super rare Brown Shrike at Weybourne – a new Norfolk and NENBC tick! Record shot

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Canada goose, with Pink-feet at Weybourne (now considered of the Atlantica race)

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Sunday 21st October

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Sunset over Aylmerton

Birding opportunities where understandably limited at yesterday morning’s Felbeck Trust work-party but we did see a few Brambling, Redwing and Bullfinch. My late afternoon walk in Felbrigg was very pleasant – warm and windless, with a spectacular sunset. Not too much about but I did see a Yellowhammer in the Hawthorns by the water meadows – my first in the park since March, there was a single Wigeon on the lake, along with a steadily increasing flock of Gadwall – 14 so far, and a couple of Little Owl calling to each other at the south east corner of the dam. I did manage to actually find one hidden in the canopy. A Sparrowhawk – probably a female, flew out from the western shelter-belt and attempted to take a Teal off of the water meadow – it failed and quickly returned to the cover of the trees! Eight Reed Bunting came in to roost in the reed-bed and, whilst I was hanging around counting them, three Water Rail were calling from different areas, from Boathouse Bay to the water meadow. There were still a couple of bats out over the village on my return home but nothing quite as large as the one a couple of weeks ago.

Record shot of Yellowhammer at the water meadows, Felbrigg – a scarce species nowadays

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Saturday 20th October

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Record shot of Siberian Stonechat, between Salthouse and Kelling yesterday 

We’ve been away the past couple of days visiting the kids and helping our youngest son with a move of house. I did, however, manage a quick dawn visit to my former stomping ground of BLGP (Baston & Langtoft Gravel Pits, to give it it’s full title) where they’ve been having a bit of a ‘wader fest’ recently. We saw Redshank, Ringed Plover, Dunlin and the ‘star of the show’ – a rather late Temminick’s Stint. On our return home yesterday, and after one or two engagements, I did managed to get along the coast to Meadow Lane, to see a rather distant but nonetheless splendid Siberian Stonechat. Even at a half mile distance you could see it’s overall paleness and, when it flew, which it did frequently, it’s strikingly pale rump. Visit Steve Gantlett’s gallery for some excellent photos of the bird. Just a pity it was a mile the wrong side of the NENBC boundary!

Post Script: This bird is now thought to be a probable Stejneger’s Stonechat (DNA evidence required to clinch the id) – a rare visitor from North East Asia and a ‘Norfolk tick’ for me if confirmed

A record shot of Temminick’s Stint at BLGP

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This morning we have a Felbeck Trust work-party at Sustead Common, so no chance to get down to the lake for the ‘flock’ of Mandarin, which appeared yesterday – gnash!


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Thursday 18th October

 

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Record shot of Ring Ouzel – on the NENBC Felbrigg mid-week walk

And the answer to the question ‘I wonder what awaits us?’ was.. a Ring Ouzel! This was the best bird, of the 51 species seen, on the NENBC mid-week walk yesterday. Found, in the company of a few ‘continental Blackbird’, at the traditional location of the Hawthorns at the edge of the water meadows. The supporting cast included: good numbers of Redwing, Starling & Lapwing heading west, male Mandarin on the lake, the pair of Stonechat still in Boathouse Bay and a few Brambling near the church. The National Trust walk in the afternoon, though well-attended, failed to produce very much of interest – with the singular exception of Grey Wagtail by the out-flow.


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Wednesday 17th October

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Shoveler – the only wind-blown arrival at Felbrigg yesterday

I was in the park at day-break yesterday to see if the bad weather of Monday had blown anything interesting in. It hadn’t, except a new lone Shoveler on the lake, but I did see / hear a few of the scarcer local birds – male Mandarin with the Mallards on the water meadows, Water Rail squealing from near Boathouse Bay and recently arrived Brambling in several spots. After an interesting meeting at Norfolk Wildlife Trust HQ about various ideas which Felbeck Trust could perhaps becomes involved with, Phil and I took a trip out to Trimingham. Not the hoped-for Lapland bunting, which I’d missed for the NENBC area in the Spring though, but a very unexpected calling Cetti’s warbler along the coastal path – possibly a migrant? and a late Lesser Whitethroat, in a mixed flock of Blackcap, Chiffchaff & Goldcrest. It’s ‘walks day’ today in Felbrigg – I wonder what, if anything, awaits us?

Record shot of Lesser Whitethroat at Trimingham 

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