Aylmerton Nature Diary

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Tuesday 26th February


Following Friday’s day-time Tawny – now a Little Owl (1 of 3),7 in Felbrigg this afternoon

Despite the glorious weather, I spent most of the weekend indoors preparing my talk for Thursday night’s Bird Club meeting, on our Great American Birding RoAd Trip of last year. Cley NWT yesterday was good. Nothing particularly outstanding but several of the notable birds still around, including: White-fronted Geese, Snow Bunting, Peregrine, Mediterranean Gull and loads of Avocet. This morning was spent at Spurrell’s Wood on an extended work-party – the new bird hide is nearing completion and the recently created grass meadow, alongside the main northern ride, is now bramble-free! This afternoon I managed to get into the park at last. There were a few ducks of interest on the water meadows / lake – ten Tufted Duck, four Wigeon (male & three females) and four  Shoveler – all males. Two Tawny Owl were calling on the edge of the Old Deer Park (there was also one at Sustead Common this morning) and there were three Little Owl – two calling to each other in the south east corner of the dam and another sat in it’s favourite hole in Oaks between the lake and the hall.

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Saturday 23rd February


Sleeping Tawny Owl – Felbrigg Park

I get to see day-time Tawny Owl in the park perhaps once or twice a year on average – yesterday was one of those occasions. I was on the path between the back gate and the hall when my attention was drawn to an unfamiliar ‘lump’ in an old Sweet Chestnut tree. As I got closer I could see that it was a sleeping Tawny – another record for the current BTO survey.

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Thursday 21st February


One of five Lesser Redpoll seen in Felbrigg Park yesterday

The highlight of yesterday’s NENBC Felbrigg mid-week walk was undoubtably the five Lesser Redpoll, in the Silver Birch trees by Sexton’s Lodge carpark, at the start of the walk. There were just two records of this elusive species in the park last year. An added bonus were the two pairs of Stonechat – one on the rough grazing below the dam and the other on the fence line near The Warren. This is the largest recorded day-count for Stonechat in Felbrigg I can find.

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Wednesday 20th February


Barn Owl over Aylmerton Common.  Record shot at dusk – a 2019 ‘patch’ tick

The birding at Cley NWT on Monday was excellent and the weather was very benign. Highlights included 70 Avocet, the very approachable Snow Bunting flock along the shingle bank still, sub-adult Peregrine sat on Serpentine for most of the morning, up to ten White-fronted Geese in two family parties and the 1st winter Glaucous Gull. But perhaps the best wildlife sighting of the day was incredible views of an Otter swimming back and forth along the Catch-water Drain, near the bridge, for most of the day! I’d just got back home when Joe, our Chile-based son, informed me he’d just been watching a Barn Owl hunting over Aylmerton Common. A touch of deja vu from a few weeks ago! I got my kit together and headed off down the lane – fortunately the bird was still there, quartering the field. The light wasn’t good so only record shots were possible – still this is my first Barn Owl on the patch this year -yeh!

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Saturday 16th February


Finally caught up with this Jack Snipe at Felbrigg today after ten or more visits this year

Finally managed to get into the park this afternoon – first time in over a week. There were a reasonable number and variety of duck on the lake and water meadows, including 11 Tufted Duck, six Wigeon, five Shoveler and the usual populations of Mallard, Teal and Gadwall. In the rough grazing meadows below the dam single Common and Jack Snipe – this was about my tenth visit this year before finally catching up with the latter species. At Sustead Common, the usual mobile tit flock and a couple of Bullfinch was pretty much it.

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Wednesday 13th February


UEA students visit Spurrell’s Wood as part of our Norfolk Hawfinch Project

Not much birding over the passed few days. Cley on Monday was OK – the birds were mostly the same as last week but the weather was better. Today we met with third year students from UEA who are undertaking research in support of our Norfolk Hawfinch Project – a collaboration between NENBC & Felbeck Trust. We’ve posed some questions we genuinely don’t know the answers to – we look forward to being informed and educated. If we’re lucky we’ll get some practical advice about habitat management which will enhance the prospects of any visiting Hawfinch.

On the way back to the cars we spot some freshly emerged Earl Purple Orchids!