Aylmerton Nature Diary

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Saturday 21st October


Fungi sp., Felbrigg – taken in late August

Yesterday morning we held our first Felbeck Trust Fungi Foray at Sustead Common. The event was led by Dr Tony Leech, one of the UK’s leading experts, and we also benefited from having James along, adding his considerable knowledge across a wide range of flora & fauna. We ended up with a good potential list of fungi, but with confirmation of many of the identifications being subject to closer scrutiny in ‘the lab’. On the bird front Mistle Thrush, Redwing, Pink-footed Geese, Tawny Owl and Siskin all added to the enjoyment and a reminder of the overall wildlife value of these ‘pocket reserves’. Thanks to both Tony and James for a very enjoyable & interesting morning.

By contrast, in the afternoon I walked the entire length of Cromer sea-front in the hope of finding something interesting. No gulls, waders or sea-birds of any note (mind you the tide was out) nor any passerines, with the exception of a single Meadow Pipit feeding on the grass by the boating lake, on my way back to the car park – clearly a migrant. Many years ago I did see a lovely Hoopoe on this same patch of grass! This morning its the NENBC monthly weekend bird walk – we’re off to explore the coast around Horsey Gap. I hope it proves more interesting than Cromer!


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Thursday 19th October


There’s been a steady increase in the number of Meadow Pipit in Felbrigg recently

I called in the park this morning on my way to Gresham for a meeting. With yesterdays spectacular display of Mandarin, I was hoping to get some photos. The first difficulty encountered was that it was foggy when I got there and I couldn’t see across the lake. I persevered but, to my surprise and mild disappointment, there wasn’t a single Mandarin to be seen! However, there were plenty of other ducks – 160 Gadwall (their numbers are steadily creeping up) 10 Wigeon, four Shoveler and the usual group of about a dozen Tufted. A Water Rail called loudly from the reed-bed. I did come across a nice mixed flock of tits, etc. at Allotment Plantation including two Marsh Tit, Treecreeper and Goldcrest but again, no Yellow-browed Warbler. A Yellowhammer along the track was the first I’d seen in a few months. On the way home I watched a group of thirty or so Redwing in the fields between Gresham and Aylmerton and at the Stone Cross, a lone Fieldfare flew over calling – my first of the autumn. There were more Redwing in Running Free Farm gardens, as I entered the village. Encouraged out again this afternoon by reports of Ring Ouzel on the coast I again drew a blank – no Mandarin either. Plenty of Redwing still coming into the park and another Fieldfare though. A single Siskin flew towards the Alders by the lake and a Sparrowhawk, probably a female, soared over the Old Deer Park. It’s still incredibly mild for mid-October.

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Wednesday 18th October

Monday I was at Cley all day. Yesterday I had a relatively unproductive visit to the park – the most notable event being the 100% increase in Gadwall numbers, now up to 143. Despite covering large sections of the Old Deer Park, Great Wood & Walled Garden, I failed to connect with any tit flocks and therefore no Yellow-browed Warbler! Today it was Felbrigg bird walks day – NENBC in the morning and National Trust this afternoon. The undoubted highlight of this mornings walk was the discovery on the lake of a ‘flock’ of 12 Mandarin Duck, including eight males – the largest recorded group in nearly a decade. The highlight of this afternoons walk – apart from it not raining very much that is, was the steady arrival of groups of Redwing from the east. I’m guessing that more than 200 birds appeared in the couple of hours we were on the walk. No camera, so no photos!

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Sunday 15th October


A surprisingly young looking Song Thrush, behind The Orangery, Felbrigg

An interesting cross-over of the seasons this morning, with two winter visiting Redwing feeding in the Hawthorns north of the water meadow and the late departing Swallow still, hawking insects over the lake. There were a dozen or so Meadow Pipit around the eastern edge of the lake, slowly moving south, in small groups. Most of the wildfowl of recent days remain, with Gadwall now the most numerous species on the lake and Wigeon numbers nudging back towards double figures. There were several skeins of Pink-feet heading north west and a group of 19 Cormorant on the same trajectory. I did a long loop around the park, including the Old Deer Park and Great Wood, in the hope of catching up with Yellow-browed Warbler. I did find one small mixed flock but Marsh Tit was the most interesting species present. Behind the Orangery I came across a very young looking Song Thrush, which looked like it had only fledged in recent weeks. More visiting Blackbirds and a Mistle Thrush along Red Barn Lane on my return home.

The cross-over of seasons, represented by winter visiting Redwing – grab shot


and a late departing Swallow – over Felbrigg Lake


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Friday 13th October


A handsome late Swallow, Felbrigg Lake

Yesterday afternoon I managed to catch up with Simon in Felbrigg Park. Whilst we were watching a particularly obliging late Swallow, hawking insects over the lake and resting on the fence wire, we talked about wildlife events in the park over the last month. During the conversation it emerged that I had missed a couple of interesting things whilst I was away in Australia. The first, an Osprey, I wasn’t so bothered about, having seen one on my birthday back in August. The second however was a complete ‘gripper’, or should I say ‘gropper’- an incredible record of Grasshopper Warbler in the rough grazing meadow, between The Forge and the top sluice! The first fully authenticated record for Felbrigg, including this amazing photo, well done Simon:


Osprey over the lake, 22nd September (photos courtesy of Simon)


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Thursday 12th October


Colour-ringed Herring Gull, seen at Cromer recently

I’ve just received this report from the BTO, concerning a colour-ringed bird I saw at Cromer recently:

Ringing Scheme: London Ring Number: GA11407 Species of bird: Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)
This bird was ringed by Landguard Ringing Group as age nestling, sex unknown on 02-Jul-2017 time unknown at Orfordness, Suffolk, UK
OS Map reference TM4549 accuracy 0, co-ordinates 52deg 5min N 1deg 34min E accuracy 2.
Colour Marks left below knee RW(ZPF)
Colour Marks right below knee M
It was found on 03-Sep-2017 time unknown at Cromer, Norfolk, UK
OS Map reference TG2143 accuracy 0, co-ordinates 52deg 56min N 1deg 17min E accuracy 0.
Finding condition: Sight record by non-ringer
Finding circumstances: Identified by Colour Ring(s)
Extra Information: Identified from legring(s)
It was found 63 days after it was ringed, 97 km from the ringing site, direction N.
It’s always interesting to get the details of these birds. I look forward to finding another, at Felbrigg, this winter.

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Wednesday 11th October


Adult winter Mediterranean Gull, Felbrigg Park  – centre bottom of the photo 

Monday was my Cley day – I’ve not seen so many birds on the reserve in recent years, it was excellent. Got back to discover that a couple of local birders had seen Yellow-browed Warbler in Felbrigg. I wasn’t, surprised given that it looks like another good year for them – see my previous AND 2016-17 review, but a bit disappointing that I hadn’t run into them already. Yesterday I did a few errands in the morning, stopping off in Sheringham to collect Shag for a year tick, before setting off for Felbrigg to take a proper look for the YBW. I went to the various spots where they’d been seen the day before but, alas, nothing, having  failed to find the roving tit flocks with which the birds had apparently been associating – in fact I hardly saw a bird in the whole of The Great Wood or Old Deer Park at all. I then decided to do a long loop around behind Felbrigg church, before heading for the lake and on to Sustead Common. From the main car park I could see they were harvesting potatoes in the fields along the eastern edge of the park – attracting a frenzy of feeding gulls. As I got nearer to the activity I thought I saw a distant Mediterranean Gull. I asked the guys if I could enter the field and after a while, sorting through hundreds of Black-headed Gulls, I came across an adult winter Med Gull – my first in a couple of years (checking back, it was two years to the day since my last Felbrigg bird!). I then completed my walk, with little change in bird species from the weekend – Tufted and Gadwall numbers are slowly increasing, Wigeon numbers down to just two. The only winter thrushes I found were Blackbird and Song Thrush. The highlight of the afternoon was, surprisingly, the dragonflies – with good views of Migrant & Southern Hawker, Common Darter and several Willow Emerald.

Willow Emerald & Common Darter – two of four dragonfly species seen today