Aylmerton Nature Diary


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Thursday 26th September

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Willow Emerald damselfly in the rain – Cromer garden yesterday. iPhone record shot

It’s been a crazy week with very little time for wildlife watching I’m afraid. A Felbeck Trust work-party at our new wildflower restoration projection at West Beckham and a major DIY project have kept me fully occupied. On Sunday we went to the closing event of the AONB Dark Skies Festival – interesting talks on amateur astronomy and birds at night – but unfortunately 100% cloud cover for the star-gazing. I have seen the Cromer Peregrines a couple of times either roosting on the church or, yesterday, cruising over Cliff Avenue. Perhaps the most surprising sighting was a mating pair of Willow Emeralds in the garden!


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Thursday 19th September

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‘End of season’ drag – Common Darter I assume

Yesterday was ‘bird walk day’ in Felbrigg – NENBC in the morning and the National Trust in the afternoon. The weather was lovely – blue skies, little wind and becoming increasingly warm during the day. We saw about 40 species during the course of the two walks. It’s difficult to pick out a clear birding highlight but if I had to it would be… Willow Emerald damselfly! We did actually see, Teal, Snipe and heard Water Rail – which I guess constitute ‘highlights’.


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Happy 5th AND Anniversary

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I can’t believe I’ve managed to keep this blog going for five years! At times, particularly over the past twelve months, notable wildlife events in the parish (including Felbrigg Park) have been pretty hard to come by and, for reasons which may have become apparent, I’m also spending more time in the east Cromer area – but overall there’s been enough I hope to keep you interested. Certainly if the blog stats are anything to go by more people are visiting the site than ever before – so a BIG thank you for your continued readership. I’ll be publishing my annual round-up of highlights in due course and, as tradition now dictates, I’ll be doing my annual ‘beating the bounds’ walk around the parish before the end of the month. So, with the caveat that the focus of wildlife interest might broaden slightly to include more posts from Cromer (which, after all has a shared boundary with the Felbrigg estate – which will remain my primary focus) I look forward to the next five years of wildlife blogging!


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Monday 16th September

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Whinchat – a ‘new area’ tick for me, on Cromer Golf Course

A walk along the Cromer east cliffs and golf course yesterday morning produced the hoped for Whinchat – a ‘new area’ tick for me. I checked out the church tower on my way back and found three Peregrine sitting up. The adult male, I’m pretty sure, was back on his favourite winter roost site on the gargoyle between the two east windows, whilst two other birds – possibly the adult female and one of the youngsters – were hunkered down in the gully at the top of the tower. Whinchat was probably the highlight of a rather ordinary day at Cley for me today to. By mid-afternoon there were several skeins of Pink-feet beginning to arrive, which provided some late interest. The weather remains rather unpromising for sea-watching or autumn migrants, so we’ll have to see what tomorrow brings.

One of three Peregrines on Cromer church yesterday – probably the adult male

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Saturday 14th September

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Felbeck Trust have been at Aldborough this weekend scything the wildflower meadows around their village pond. It’s been pretty tough going. During the process we came across a bit of wildlife – a couple of frogs and toads, and disturbed a family party of what, from the length of their tails, I think were Field Vole (Short-tailed Vole). Sweet little things which squeaked loudly and, for a time, sought sanctuary under the wheels of a nearby parked car! My Friday morning sea-watch at Cromer was reasonable given the continuing run of moderate westerlies and clear conditions. Great and Arctic Skua, quite a few late Sandwich Tern, both Red-throated and Great Northern Diver and four different Mediterranean Gulls were the highlights. There are still a few dragonflies around. At Sustead Common I managed to catch-up with Migrant Hawker – which we’d seen there on our mid-week work-party  – well enough to photograph.

Resting Migrant Hawker – Sustead Common (Surveyor’s Allotment)

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Wednesday 11th September

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Female Red-veined Darter – Felbrigg Park

After a strenuous Felbeck Trust work-party yesterday morning, I did manage a short walk around Felbrigg in the afternoon. There was very little bird action, with squealing Water Rail in the reed-bed, a pair of Gadwall on the lake and a calling Tawny Owl near the viewing screen being the high-lights. Bumped into Simon, who was watching a Red-veined Darter at the time – he told me about the Willow Emeralds along the dam wall. The tiny Alder sapling was festooned with this former rare damselfly when we got there. Down the lane there were several Chiffchaff, with more calling in the park.

Willow Emerald were plentiful along the dam wall – iPhone record shot

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Tuesday 10th September

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iPhone record shot of Curlew – Cley NWT

My Sunday sea-watch at Cromer proved a bit of a disaster. I got all the way there only to realise I’d left my scope behind! I decided to persevere with binoculars only, which meant I could only identify the closer stuff. I did see a Bonxie (Great Skua), an adult Mediterranean Gull, along with a late Sandwich Tern, plenty of Teal and Common Scoter but had to let a lot go, including a Diver sp. which could have been Black-throated. Yesterday at Cley it was quiet in comparison to recent weeks – still some nice waders about, including two juvenile Spotted Redshank and a few Green Sandpiper. The flock of 50+ Curlew roosting on Simmond’s Scrape contained one or two Whimbrel. A Hobby and Peregrine stirred things up as they passed over. Talking of Peregrine – records from Cromer church have tailed-off. I’m not sure if that’s because the birds have left or we’re all suffering from observer fatigue? Anyway, I went to check for myself on Sunday evening and found a roosting bird on the south west pinnacle. I couldn’t be sure but it looked like one of the young males. Any recent records, of multiple sightings or the adult female in particular, would be much appreciated.

For anyone remotely interested I’ve now posted a short blog covering our recent trip to Andalucia – click here to see


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Saturday 7th September

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Five Wigeon this morning at Felbrigg – first report of the autumn

We spent last week birding in Andalucia with my oldest birding friend Neil and his partner Nicola. We saw 160+ species in total including the highlight – five swift species! We did miss a few ‘regulars’ – herons & terns in particular – so, overall, not a bad trip at all. I’ll be posting a brief trip report on TrevorOnTour once I’ve sorted out my photos. This morning around Felbrigg was pretty quiet. Most of the interest came from the wildfowl – with five Wigeon (first record of the autumn) and a Gadwall on the water meadows and four Teal and two Tufted Duck (possible Tufted x Ferruginous hybrids but their state of moult made it hard to be sure) as well as a dozen or so Mallard. A Grey Wagtail flew over the lake calling. There is still a calling Chiffchaff along the lane and a couple of Bullfinch.