Summertime and the living is easy...
It's late spring/early summer and the lambs gambol on the parkland, while South Devon cattle graze peacefully among the trees. Buttercups stud the grass with shining yellow, attracting the drowsy bumblebees. Swallows swoop and twitter over the pasture and a Cuckoo calls in the distance. Speckled Wood butterflies flit along the woodland rides and delicate blue damselflies settle on the foliage. Sheep’s Sorrel paints the park red and far above a Skylark sings joyously, a tiny speck in the ether. As dusk settles, Noctule bats head out for a night’s foraging and the silent Barn Owl searches for the slightest sound in the grass, where a Bank Vole is busy, unaware of possible danger.
The Weasel was seen casually pottering about 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.
The realigning of Scarrow Beck
Historically Scarrow Beck was straightened quite early and with the changes in agricultural management in its catchment area, there has been a significant build up of silt going into the lake. The straightened Beck has not been able to flood into the surrounding pasture and deposit its silt before reaching the lake.
The realigning part of Scarrow Beck, was part of a Higher Level agricultural Scheme (HLS). The stream now no longer runs in a straight line but meanders across the pasture following some of the lower depressions, still visible in the ground, flowing into the small pond close to the footpath and then into the lake through the newly constructed weir which will allow the stream to behave in a much more natural manner. The weir allows control of the water levels in winter and spring and the field above the lake will now flood much further up in winter than previously. This should encourage wet loving species to spread, providing a greater diversity of plants and insects.
It is hoped 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.
We are home to Pippistrelles - both Common and Soprano; Brown long-eared; Daubenton's; Barbastelle; Natterer's and Noctules which are the largest bat resident in the UK. Our Ice house is where many choose to hibernate.
Learn about these fascinating mammals and a project to help conserve them in Norfolk. Join us on a family-friendly bat walk around the estate as night falls, organised in partnership with the Norfolk Barbastelle Study Group.