Aylmerton Nature Diary

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Tuesday 14th August


iPhone photo of Wheatear – Cley NWT

Yesterday was Cley NWT day. A good selection of waders were on the main scrapes whilst ‘small migrants’ were present along the shingle ridge, including four Wheatear, Whinchat and a juvenile Stonechat. A young Peregrine caused havoc during the afternoon as it hunted across Simmond’s & Pat’s Scrapes. Today we had a family outing to Felbrigg Park and, later, to Sustead Common – still masses of toadlets everywhere in the park! At the Common, a pair of mating Southern Hawker and a Nuthatch were the highlights.


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Monday 13th August


Female Southern Hawker, resting on a flower-pot crate in our Aylmerton garden

I stepped out of our kitchen door yesterday morning to be greeted by a very approachable Southern Hawker, ovipositing in our front garden pond. Not so approachable on this occasion, was an old male Common Darter, looking almost black – also on the pond, in the afternoon. On the birding front, the duck count was pretty much as I’d expected: Mallard, Gadwall, Tufted & Mandarin, along with Moorhen, Coot, Mute Swan and – ‘best bird’, a squealing Water Rail in the reed-bed. A group of five Swift heading south-west over the lake broke the routine.

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Sunday 12th August


Greenshank, in the skies above Felbrigg (record shot)

Now that the insect season is drawing to a close and the days are beginning to shorten, I’m slowly reverting to earlier morning walks in the park. Yesterday I was through the back gate by around 06.45, but actually things were pretty quiet until I reached the lake. I couldn’t see anything particularly interesting in the wildfowl line but noted that the Cormorant count in the roost is steadily increasing – I counted twelve. A group of a dozen Sand Martin were busy hawking over the surface of the lake. The best bird was first located on call, long before I could see it. A repetitive loud, trisyllabic piping appeared from the Metton direction – though distant, I recognised it immediately as a Greenshank. Gradually it got closer until I spotted it flying north-west in the skies over the Weaver’s Way. It reduced height and, at one point, looked like it might land on the water meadow, but it decided against it and kept going in the direction of Aylmerton church. On my way back through  the ‘dragonfly field’ I flushed a fresh / newly-arrived Painted Lady – I’ve seen comparatively few this summer.

Off now to do my WeBS count – shouldn’t take me long!

Painted Lady – ‘dragonfly field’, between The Forge and the lake


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Saturday 11th August


White Stork – in the adjacent parish of Beeston. An NENBC tick potentially

The recent wet weather – yes we’ve finally had some after months of drought and a major DIY project have kept me largely indoors for the past few days. The only exceptions have been a couple of sessions at Sustead Common, finishing-off deepening the winter scrape and clearing the in-flow drain under the road, and last evening, in response to a message from Mark , a ‘twitch’ to Beeston to see a White Stork! The same bird as seen along the coast at Holme and then Cley and, possibly earlier, at Gibraltar Point, Lincolnshire, on Monday. An un-ringed and fully mobile bird – could this be a genuine migrant?

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Thursday 9th August


Greenfinch – (Photo courtesy of NWT)

I had a male Greenfinch this morning, drinking at my Aylmerton garden bird-bath – a first for me. I’m not sure if my impressions are borne out by more general observations (Greenfinch is one of the Bird Club’s target species) but I’ve been seeing them more regularly of late.

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Monday 6th August


Roe Deer, enjoying an early morning browse – Aylmerton Common

Most of my walks of late have been at lunchtime or afternoon, mainly to maximise on the insect opportunities, so this mornings early(ish) walk in the park was my first in awhile. A couple of Nuthatch were calling noisily near the back gate. The cows were back on the water meadow, so very little bird activity there. A Reed Warbler was singing in the reed-bed and a Coot was along the edge – my first sighting since March! The female Mandarin was snoozing in the morning sunshine, on the dead tree near the island. On my way back  home, I watched a family party of Blackcap – Dad and at least four youngsters (possibly including Mum), at the edge of the ‘dragonfly field’. I looked for Swift coming back through the village but couldn’t see one – my last sighting of local birds being on Saturday. I get the impression that things are on the move earlier this year.

Coot, Felbrigg Lake – my first here since March but there have been other occasional sightings


Off now for a days volunteering at Cley NWT.

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Saturday 4th August


Little Owl in Felbrigg – one of five!

It was one of those walks yesterday, with near-consant wildlife interest for the duration. I set-off after lunch to do a quick job at the village pond – I’m amazed that the Mallard still has nine surviving youngsters there. Eventually I continued along Red Barn Lane to the Sexton’s Lodge park entrance. The Buddleia in the garden there were covered in butterflies, mostly Large & Green-veined White but with a few other species – Holly Blue, Comma, Meadow Brown and a Silver-washed Fritillary, which I finally managed to get a record shot of. It was cloudy by the time I reached the Ice Pond but three Southern Hawker provided more insect interest. Then on to the water meadow, where there was a Green Sandpiper and a Reed Warbler calling from near the top sluice. A Red Kite, in heavy moult, appeared over the lake and the usual mottled crew of wildfowl, still in eclipse, were around Boathouse Bay. Amongst them Mallard, Gadwall, Shoveler and Mandarin. The winter plumage Little Grebe was well hidden amongst the the over-hanging branches by the island. I’d reached The Warren before a couple of Little Owl started calling to each other from the Oaks in the south-west corner then, further along the track by the Hollow Oak, there were another three – presumably adult(s) with young. I did manage a quick photo of one before it flew further up the slope towards the hall and was lost from view. My first evidence of breeding this year.

A very worn Silver-washed Fritillary – Sexton’s Lodge


A better shot of Mandarin on the lake – I’m leaning more towards female rather than juvenile with this bird. Anyone care to comment?