Aylmerton Nature Diary

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Wednesday 21st March


Singing Robin down the lane – still to hear my first Chiffchaff of the year

Yesterday afternoon was my first venture into the park since returning from Italy. There’s still little sign of any Spring activity other than a few singing Robin, Great Tit, Dunnock and Stock Dove. As I missed my WeBS count at the weekend I checked the water meadow and lake for wildfowl.¬† I was surprised just how few birds there were – less than twenty of the three ‘default’ duck species, Teal, Gadwall & Mallard and very little else besides. I did managed to find three lingering Woodcock in Common Plantation and a similar number of Snipe on the rough grazing meadow below the dam. A flock of forty Fieldfare were feeding on the grass bank, south of the Weaver’s Way, with a lone Redwing.

I did manage to collect a couple of NENBC area year ticks on my travels – the very smart and obliging Snow Bunting along The Esplanade at Sheringham and the male Goosander at Selbrigg Pond – the first one I’ve seen in the area since November 2015! Today it’s Felbrigg walks day with the Bird Club this morning and the National Trust Bird Walk this afternoon – I’m hoping for a seasonal surprise!

Record shot of the male Goosander at the far end of Selbrigg Pond



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Monday 19th March


Jay in Felbrigg a couple of weeks ago – retrieving buried acorns

Just returned from a fascinating cultural trip to Florence, see TrevorOnTour for highlights. Landing at Luton in sub-zero temperatures, with driving snow, on Saturday evening was exciting! Looking forward to a thermally challenging day at Cley NWT today – I’m afraid this is another week when the shorts will have to stay in the draw. Hope to be back on the patch at some point tomorrow, though looking at NENBC records for the park, it doesn’t look like I’ve missed a great lot.


Sunday 11th March


First view of the female Stonechat in the mist at Felbrigg this morning

The weather forecast was ‘100% rain’ when I got up this morning, but despite that I got dressed up in my waterproofs and headed for the park. I’m glad I did – it didn’t rain and there was some excellent birding to be had! The ‘bird of the morning’ was undoubtably a female Stonechat seen in the mist¬†along the fence-line, above the water meadows. She eventually flew to the gorse bushes at The Warren and was still there on my return an hour later. As I was watching the Stonechat, a flock of 14 Wigeon appeared over the lake, circled several times, before heading off south-west. The male Shoveler remains on the water meadow. I flushed a Common Snipe from the rough grazing meadows below the dam and there was a singing Reed Bunting – if indeed you can call their scratchy utterances ‘song’, perched in the lone Hawthorn along Scarrow Beck. A Marsh Tit was calling in Common Plantation and a Grey Wagtail flew over me back at the outflow. I added several species which I’d missed on my Q1 Index of Relative Abundance survey a few days ago: Greylag, Linnet & Yellowhammer. A large flock of c.200 Fieldfare flew south over the grazing meadows on my return journey. It just goes to show there’s always something of interest in Felbrigg!

Flock of 14 Wigeon over the lake – they decided not to stop


Better views of the Stonechat on my way back home. A good bird for Felbrigg and third in a string of scarce birds over the past ten days, including Pintail and Jack Snipe


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Friday 9th March

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1st winter female Snowy Owl, first in Norfolk since 1991 – being mobbed by Red Kite

The past couple of days have been taken up mostly with Felbeck Trust stuff. I did manage to get out birding on Wednesday afternoon, doing a bit of gull-watching at Cromer. This morning I spent in Felbrigg, doing a Bird Club survey to support our Index of Relative Abundance project. After lunch I got a call from Phil telling me that there was a Snowy Owl on Scolt Head – the first in Norfolk since 1991! We picked up the Gresham Massive and headed for the coast. Being an island, viewing was only from the mainland, at Burnham Deepdale. The bird was visible on arrival, though distant – awesome! I saw the the 1991 bird, only it was in Lincolnshire at the time, so this was a Norfolk ‘tick’ for me.

Caspian and Iceland Gull on the beach at Cromer, on Wednesday



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Tuesday 6th March


Superb male Pintail this afternoon – only the 4th record for Felbrigg

Had a bit of a birdy day today. It started with a half-hearted raptor-watch at Swanton Novers, followed by a much more rewarding visit to the beach at West Runton. The extreme cold wether has brought tons of dead sea-creatures onto the beach and hundreds of gulls along with it. Quite a few waders as well – several new for the Club area this year. This afternoon I visited three sites, currently under discussion regarding Felbeck Trust involvement in the future, doing an initial bird and plant survey (Cornel did the plants). I got home, had a cuppa and brought my bird records up to date. Looking out of the window the sun was still shinning, so I decided to have a late visit to Felbrigg. Nothing much of note until I got to the lake. I was scanning for Tufted Duck when a strikingly pale-fronted duck appeared from the reeds in front of Boathouse Bay. It was a superb male Pintail – only the 4th record for Felbrigg. I wandered off down the rough grazing meadows to watch two hunting Barn Owl, glowing gold in the setting sun. By the time I’d got back to the lake Phil & Lee had responded to my text and we all enjoyed good views of the Pintail, which had temporarily relocated to the water meadows.

One of two Barn Owl hunting over the rough grazing meadow below the dam