Misty winter morning
The early sunlight dances through the morning mist onto the lichen-encrusted boles and twisted shapes of ancient Sweet Chestnuts. Waved Silk-moss snakes down the banks of Lion’s Mouth and flocks of Bramblings enjoy the beech mast feast beneath grey spreading branches. Golden Plover rise from the parkland, their cries mingling with the haunting sounds of the swirling Lapwings. The hare runs silently up a glistening furrow, while the stoat, alert to every tiny squeak, follows tell-tale tracks in the gleaming snow. Frosted heads of Norfolk Reed stand proud over the frozen lake. The Barn-owl sits sentinel, watching the Pink-footed Geese, silhouetted against the pale setting sun.
Some of our residents
The Weasel is sometimes seen casually pottering in the car park or ducking and diving in the walled garden....
The estate is managed to encourage old fashioned farm birds - Skylarks, Linnets, and Yellow Hammers.
We have Tawny owls in the Great Wood and Barn and Little owls living contentedly in the parkland.
We have Greater Spotted and Green Woodpeckers and they can regularly be heard.
- Felbrigg has SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) conservation sites - Great Wood and some of the parkland.
- There are ancient Beech which are reputedly the furthest north on acid soil. Also some rare fungi and lichens.
- Much of the dead wood is left for insects. 33 new species of insects not found before in Norfolk have been identified and nine Red Data Book species.
- Resident in Felbrigg are currently four types of deer: Roe, Red, Muntjac and Chinese Water.
- A fungal midge, and the Slender or Lemon slug have been found in the Great Wood.
- A large part of the estate is in High Level Stewardship (HLS) with currently 240 hectares in our direct management.
- As part of the HLS, tenant farmers agree to maintain seed and nectar strips and reduced stocking levels of grazing animals.
- We use no fertilizer, insecticide or pesticides although a minimal amount of herbicide is used to control thistle and ragwort.
Eight species of bat have been recorded here, including widespread species typical of woodland such as Natterer’s bat as well as the rare Barbestelle. The lake at Felbrigg is a good place to head for at dusk to see bat activity - Pipistrelle and Daubenton’s bats commonly feed over the water here, and the larger species such as Noctule and Serotine can be seen hunting over the park. Whilst the old hollow trees provide excellent natural roost sites for bats, we also give them a helping hand in the form of over 100 bat boxes around the estate. Annual surveys show these are well used with an occupancy rate of over 30% (and up to 20 bats in a box!). That said, our Ice house is where many choose to hibernate.
With the work to realign Scarrow Beck complete we hope to see wading birds, such as Snipe and Lapwing, return to nest on the pasture. This will also mean that much less silt should reach the lake. Already we have seen greater numbers of duck and geese using the water and a Bittern, normally they just come for a look round, this year stayed for several months. We have seen Oyster Catchers prospecting and our grass management should mean that they will stay with us in the coming years.. Learn more about the realigning of Scarrow Beck.