Mandarin ducks on Felbrigg lake

Felbrigg's diverse habitats have something to offer the animal lover at every time of day and season.

The mandarin ducks are often to be seen on the lake; as a tree nesting species Felbrigg is an ideal home for them offering a wide variety of nesting sites.

The lake at Felbrigg is also a good place to head for at dusk to see bat activity when Pipistrelle and Daubenton's bats circle the lake on the lookout for insects. Felbrigg supports eight species of bat including widespread species typical of woodland such as Natterer’s bat as well as the rare Barbestelle; 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% - with up to 20 bats in a box!. That said, our Ice house is where many choose to hibernate.

Convolvulus Hawkmoth

Seen at Felbrigg in October 2016
Convolvulus Hawkmoth on shed at Felbrigg
Seen at Felbrigg in October 2016

Spotted at Felbrigg in October, this is a reasonably common.moth which does not over winter here but migrates here from Africa; sometimes in large numbers. Sometimes these migrants will breed here so you get a second flush, and if they do the favoured food plant is bind weed/ convolvulus - hence the name. It is a large moth with a wing span of 8 to 12 cm .

The have a very long proboscis so they will also feed on plants that other moths can’t reach such as tobacco plant (Nicotiana), petunia, lilies and phlox.

The last Squire wrote that in Spring Jackdaws chatter as they make their nests in the hollow beeches. Cock pheasants, spectacular in their mating plumage, crow and drum their wings. In the trees near the church a pair of Kestrels is sure to breed and occasionally you hear their shrill mewing note.

" Late in April the Cuckoos come, but the dominant note always and inescapably, is the crying of the plovers."
- Robert Windham Ketton-Cremer

Barn and Little owls glide silently over the open fields hunting their prey, and there are Tawny owls in the Great Wood. The pastures attract traditional farmland birds such as skylarks, linnets and yellowhammers, whilst the woodlands are the domain of of the Great Spotted and Green woodpeckers which are often to be heard hammering rather than seen.

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 in the Autumn flocks of Bramblings enjoy the beech mast feast. 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, whist the stoat is alert to every tiny squeak, and the Weasel is sometimes seen casually pottering in the car park or ducking and diving in the walled garden.
Felbrigg is home to four types of deer, Roe, Red, Muntjac and Chinese Water, and the fallen trees are usually left to rot where they lie, providing a welcome habitat for a wide variety of insects and fungi.