Aylmerton Nature Diary

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Saturday 29th June


iPhone record shot of the distant and elusive Squacco Heron at Cley today – a Norfolk ‘tick’ 

I’ve been out on the bike a couple of times recently – first time since I hung it on the garage wall after our previous leg of the NCN 1, from Yorkshire to Norfolk, last summer! Next week we’re completing the route south to Dover. The good thing about cycling in the countryside is that you get to cover a lot of ground whilst still remaining connected to nature. I’ve been encouraged by the number of Whitethroat, Yellowhammer and Greenfinch I’ve seen or heard in the local hedgerows. And at Sustead Common – on the Roadside Nature Reserve – I saw a Common Spotted Orchid from the bike. We were just on our way back to the cottage this morning when I got a text announcing that there was a Squacco Heron at Cley NWT. Apart from being a lovely looking bird, this would be a Norfolk ‘first’ for me. We headed straight down to West Bank where the bird showed very briefly before walking off into the reeds. It was another half hour or so before it walked back out of cover again. This afternoon we watched the female Peregrine cruising over the east Cromer skyline from Cliff Avenue. It’s been quite an interesting week for them – on Wednesday, whilst we were on watch-point duties, we watched the adults reacted to the arrival of a young female ‘intruder’. They weren’t exactly welcoming and friendly – the chicks though appeared to take it all in their stride!

The kids are growing up fast


Seen from the bike, a Common Spotted Orchid – Sustead Common RNR.  Sorry for the fuzziness but you get the idea!



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Tuesday 25th June


iPhone photo of the Green-winged Teal, at Cley NWT

No too shabby a day at Cley yesterday. Best bird was the recently arrived Green-winged Teal, which showed well on Pat’s Pool all day. The supporting cast included: sub-adult Little Gull, several smart- looking male Ruff, a Wood Sandpiper and a variety of other waders.

Wood Sandpiper – my first in Norfolk this year (I really must get out more often!)


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Sunday 23rd June


Bee Orchid – Felbrigg Park 

It’s proving hard to keep faith with the local patch at the moment. Admittedly it is the mid-summer slump but all the same there really is nothing, at least bird-wise, about in the park. DIYing and Peregrine stuff has kept me busy most of the weekend but I did manage an amble around the lake this afternoon. The milky sun and moderate cool easterly breeze put paid to any real dragonfly activity – just the usual suspects that I could see. Best thing for me was stumbling across a superb Bee Orchid spike. I don’t recall ever seeing one in Felbrigg before.

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Saturday 22nd June


One of several colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit at Cley recently – photo by GF

As a bit of a post-script to our duty day at Cley NWT last Monday, I received this information about a long-lived and, presumably, much travelled Black-tailed Godwit, which we saw on Pat’s Pool in the morning. One of four or five different colour-ringed birds around the reserve at the moment. Many thanks to David for the information and Graham for the photo.

  1. Left leg: orange over green on tibia.
  2. Right leg: orange over dark blue on tibia.
  3. All rings low in height. Upper rings appeared stained so some doubt about their true colour.
  4. Ringed as a chick 13/6/01 at Nene Washes (Cambs).
  5. A female.
  6. Movements: Nene Washes 1/4/03, Ouse Washes 10/5/04, Nene Washes 1/4/06, Tagus Estuary (Portugal) 11/10/07, Porte-en-Re (France) 24/2/08, Cley Marshes 26/5/09, Titchwell (Norfolk) 15/6/14+27/7/16, Nene Washes 22/4/18+21/5/18, Titchwell 22/6/18-9/8/18, Ponte de Erva (Porto Alto, Portugal) 12/10/18, Tagus Estuary 5/2/19 and Ponte de Erva 11+16/2/19.
  7. Recaptured at Nene Washes in the breeding season 2019 and fitted with the rings given below.
  8. Left leg: dark green flag with geolocator attached over blue on tibia.
  9. Right leg: orange ring over lime ring with black code E on tibia.
  10. Seen    Cley Marshes 16/6(GFe), 17/6(DPW,TW), 18/6(GFe), 19/6(GFe,NR).

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Friday 21st June


 By far the most exotic bird seen recently –  Peacock at East Beckham! (photo by Carol)

There was nothing of particular note on either of the two Felbrigg walks on Wednesday, but we did manage to clock up around 45 species between the the morning and the afternoon groups. The best birds, unfortunately, appeared on the water meadows during my lunch break – whilst I was looking for dragonflies. Two Green Sandpiper came right over my head whilst I was stood on the sluice and landed briefly on the mud spit. Yesterday it was a Felbeck Trust work-party in the morning – path clearing at the Beckhams – and in the evening the last of this year’s NENBC Birding for Beginners Workshops. A group of a dozen or so very engaged and enthusiastic learners – I won’t know what to do with my Thursday evenings!

As always, no camera – but you can image two Green Sand in this iPhone photo!



Wednesday 19th June


Grey Heron, Felbrigg – with curious prey item

I was down at the water meadows on Monday, looking for dragonflies, when I saw a Grey Heron catch something in the reeds. I couldn’t make out the prey item with binoculars but did manage a couple of grab shots. Looking at them I still haven’t a clue as to what it was – any suggestions welcome! It’s Felbrigg walk day today – NENBC this morning and National Trust this afternoon. The weather is looking decidedly iffy.

More dragonflies are now emerging – this female / imm. Black-tailed Skimmer was a beauty


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Monday 17th June


Female Mandarin hiding amongst a family of Mallard  – Felbrigg Park water meadows

Events and the weather conspired against me last week, preventing me getting into the park much – I did manage a couple of brief visits over the weekend though. Yesterday, late afternoon, produce a nice selection of Felbrigg ‘specials’ including Red Kite & Grey Wagtail – both over the water meadows, a brief visit from an Oystercatcher, Little Owl in the usual Ash tree below the dam and, best of all, a female Mandarin – only my second sighting this year – roosting with the Mallards. The Mute Swan family is now reduced to four cygnets and there was no sign of last weeks Egyptian Goose family either. Other noteworthy sightings included a couple of broods of Mallard, a female Gadwall with three chicks – not sure where she’s been hiding, several Sedge Warbler and a couple of singing Reed Warbler, but still no sign of the Spotted Flycatchers! On the way down The Street, I counted at least 36 Painted Lady butterflies – though surprisingly only a handful in the park itself. Very few dragonflies about either – but it was getting late and rather overcast.

Record shot of adult Little Owl


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Saturday 15th June


One of what must have been hundreds of Painted Lady along the Norfolk coast today

Today there have been an extraordinary number of Painted Lady butterflies about. My first sighting was one on the Red Valerian in the garden. Later we went to the garden centre at Overstrand, where there were dozens. Mark reported over 100 at Beeston Common. They were a regular sight around the church yard, whilst we were at the Peregrine watch-point this afternoon. This long-distance migrant was everywhere today!

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Friday 14th June


Small crowd gathers in Cromer church – eagerly awaiting the return of adult Peregrines

This week has been a total wash-out – I can’t remember such a wet week in Norfolk in a long while. As a consequence I’ve managed to catch up on a lot of admin jobs but done no birding. We were on the Cromer Peregrine watch-point on Wednesday when, despite the weather, the adults brought several kills to the nest. Yesterday, another little piece of Peregrine history was made when the three chicks were expertly ringed by ‘Harrierman’. There are two male chicks and a female – she already weighs half as much again as the boys! Each of the youngsters are now sporting a standard metal BTO ring and colour ring, orange with black numbers – 44(m), 45(f) & 46(m). The adults remained close-by, calling noisily to their chicks, the whole time, and they were back on the tower within a few minutes after the ringers had finished. Here are the first photos of the young to be posted on line.

The first public views of the ringed chicks – iPhone


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Monday 10th June

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Four-spotted Chaser – Felbrigg Park

Despite a handful of visits to the western shelter-belt in the park over the past week or so I’ve still not managed to connect with Spotted Flycatcher. Yesterday, having again had no luck, I stopped-off at the lake on my way through to Cromer, for our shift at the Peregrine watch-point. There were plenty of dragonflies about but very little else. Having had the biggest number of Spring Lapwing since the area was re-modelled, up to five present on the water-meadows, they now seem to have finally abandoned any attempt to breed. Too much accumulated disturbance from grazing cattle, off-the-lease dogs and lost humans almost certainly being the reason. I did, however, see that the Egyptian Geese have six young chicks. This is very late for this species – suggesting a probable second brood? I also saw my first Painted Lady & Common Blue for the year, in the park. At the watch-point it was busy, with plenty of visitors and the adult Peregrines in near-constant attendance. At one point the female brought in a large Wood Pigeon, plucked it, and fed it to the chicks – right in front of the camera and the admiring crowd. Cley NWT today – but the weather forecast looks pretty grim.

There were several jack Pike along the dam wall  – but this adult was about 18″ long

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