Aylmerton Nature Diary


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Saturday 24th June

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Small Skipper – Felbrigg Park

The weather has been rather mixed of late, not as hot as the previous week, with cloudy skies, humid but no rain to speak of – not ideal conditions for my afternoon walk around the lake. I was looking for insects really, so I was pleased to see a Spotted Flycatcher, feeding in the Alders, west of the lake and I observed that the female Gadwall is now protecting her one remaining off-spring. I did see Small Skipper – we had Essex Skipper on the heath during the NENBC mid-week walk on Wednesday, and Small Red-eyed Damselfly on the lake – my first for the year.

Small Red-eyed Damselfly, Felbrigg Lake – first for the year

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Thursday 22nd June

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Evidence of Gadwall successfully breeding on Felbrigg Lake

Yesterday was Felbrigg walk day, with the Bird Club in the morning and the National Trust in the afternoon. June is traditionally the worst month of the year for the number of species seen, so I was very pleased that we managed over forty in the morning, with Little Owl and Egyptian Geese being the highlights. Oystercatcher was probably the best bird of the afternoon. However, the most interesting record for me was of a female Gadwall with two small chicks on the lake. I initially thought it was a Mallard when I saw her in amongst the blanket weed on the far side of the lake. That would have been interesting enough as I’ve not seen any duck chicks so far this year, but as we got better views the white ‘flag’ at the rear end and the orange band along the bill became obvious and identification confirmed. Gadwall do winter on the lake in reasonable numbers and the occasional pair over-summer but successful breeding is still an unusual occurrence.

Young ducklings face plenty of hazards in and on the lake, Pike being just one of them 

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Despite the relative lake of birds, there were plenty of dragonflies and butterflies to look at including, Emperor, Four-spotted Chaser, Black-tailed Skimmer and Ringlet, Large & Essex Skipper and Meadow Brown.

‘Drag eat drag’ – a male Emperor snacks on a Blue-tailed Damselfly

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Monday 19th June

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Black-tailed Skimmer – Felbrigg Lake

Gradually getting back to normal after our week in Northern Greece and last week, spent cycling along the NCN 1, from Berwick on Tweed to Flamborough. We did see over seventy bird species from our bikes during the five day ride, including Avocet, Corn Bunting, Eider, Grasshopper Warbler & Siskin.

Managed to get a walk in around the park yesterday evening, once the heat of the day had subsided. I was pleased to see the adult Spotted Flycatcher was still in the Sweet Chestnut, close to the path through the shelter-belt. Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Reed & Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat and a couple of Mistle Thrush all seen, but little else. I see that the pair of Mute Swan have managed to hang on to their seven regular cygnets, but appear to have lost the ‘Polish’ youngster. Surprised to see so many dragonfly & damselfly still on the wing after 8.00pm, including Emperor, Black-tailed Skimmer and my first Brown Hawker of the year. Back in the village, plenty of Swift over-head – I counted at least 25 birds, swirling and screaming together.

Sedge Warbler present but not singing, in the reed-bed

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Saturday 11th June

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Common Spotted Orchid, Felbrigg Park

We arrived back from Stansted at 4.00 this morning, after a fabulous wildlife week in Northern Greece – highlights on TrevorOnTour in due course. Pleased to see two Barn Owl hunting along the verge of the A149 as we drove in, not so pleased to come to, three hours later, to the sound of a Cuckoo calling close by – I couldn’t get back to sleep after that! As I went to Cromer shopping I noticed a Swift ‘prospecting’ one of the House Martin nests on a house on Church Road – it returned to the nest on several occasions as I watched it. Never seen this behaviour in Swift before. Managed to get around the park late afternoon – too late for the hoped for dragonflies reported by Simon earlier. I did get brief views of a ‘red darter’ but not good enough to confirm Red-veined Darter. There seems to have been an explosion of Red Admiral – I saw at least a dozen in the shelter-belt. There’s a nice display of orchids near the top sluice, including a Heath Spotted – which I was told about by a gentleman who seemed to know the difference between it and the more numerous Common Spotted.

Heath Spotted Orchid

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Saturday 3rd June

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An inquisitive Roe Deer on one of our walks in Felbrigg Park

We’ve had Matt , Rosie and the Boys staying with us for the past few days which is the reason for reduced postings. We did manage a few walks in the park but they’ve been punctuated with tree-climbing, pond dipping and ice creams! There’s been very little of interest bird-wise – the hybrid Tufted x Ferruginous Duck didn’t stay, I haven’t seen the Spotted Flycatcher or the Little Owl for a few days and the male Mandarin appears to have disappeared. However, I did see fresh feather down and a cream-coloured egg in the hole in the oak tree a couple of days ago – which might be this species – all rather odd.

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The most interest event was yesterday, following a burst water main on the top road, causing a temporary river to flow down Lion’s Mouth, resulting in minor flooding and increased flow into the water-meadow/lake. Quick action by the Rangers avoiding any real damage, thankfully.

A new river flows through Lion’s Mouth!

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Temporary flooding near the Woodyard

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Tuesday 30th May

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Tufted x Ferruginous Duck hybrids – Felbrigg lake

It’s back – or rather, they are! I was walking past Felbrigg lake this afternoon, on my way to Sustead Common, when two Aytha type ducks flew in. I assumed at first that it would be the pair of Tufted Duck that were on the lake briefly the other day. Then I took a closer look and it now appears that we have two Tufted x Ferruginous type ducks visiting the lake.

Photo of Tufted x Ferruginous, taken from the internet

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another shot of the Felbrigg birds

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As always, if anyone has an alternative opinion, I’d be pleased to hear it.