• Swift envy

    Is there such a thing as “Swift envy”? Every year the groups of summer visiting Swifts descend to land, for the only time in the year, to raise their young in the eves my neighbour’s houses – but not in mine. They have their traditional sites and they stick to them. Even since I made sure that the builders left a gap under the new tiles they have not obliged.

    I think I am going to have to resort to extreme methods. Not just a purpose built Swift nest box, but perhaps the mad idea of the Swift CD. Apparently, if you play the siren-like calls of the Swift from the loft at certain times of the year then you can get the message across – a kind of Swift siren summoning the adults to a new home. But, I have my doubts.

    My track record of providing desirable homes for nesting birds is not good. The ”House Sparrow Terrace Nest box” has ignored for some years, apart from the occasional Blue Tit (and they nest in any old box). So, I don’t hold out much hope for the more specialist nest site.

    At this time of year during the long evenings, I have to put up with Fiona’s Swifts speeding around the Brampton skies and not my own. So, if you hear somebody trying to switch on a CD player under the tiles in May next year, you will know which crazy idea is being adopted.


  • Last Cuckoo of 2010

    Many people note when they hear the first Brampton Cuckoo of the year (this year I noted 23rd April – but I know this was not as early as some people), but does anybody note the last heard? Late June – the 28th June to be precise, during an morning walk with the whippets, a Cuckoo called and I have not heard one since. No doubt the bird’s job done and thoughts about returning south are returning. An old rhyme sums it up

    In April I open my bill
    In May I sing night and day
    In June I change my tune
    In July far far I fly
    In August away I must

    The June tune is a strange cross between a clucking and bubbling which the Cuckoo produces in flight. I am told it is the female Cuckoo which babbles, so we will leave this one there.

    In Brampton the favoured haunt of the Cuckoo is the woodland and scrub which form the river margins. The shape of the valley and the scattered woodlands help to bounce the call around allowing the bird to cover a large and obviously fruitful territory.

  • Deer in June

    It was the ears that gave it away. Large and held at 45 degrees, clearly belonging to a Roe Doe as she stood motionless in the barley some thirty yards away. As we stood quietly watching the ears expanded into a watchful head with a nose taking in deep drafts of air. The lack of flight made us suspect that her fawn was hidden nearby, so we walked away and left her to it.


    Every evening at dusk we have a good chance of glimpsing the members of this small Roe Deer group. Although they are gaining in confidence they usually wait until the last of the ramblers have retired before venturing out of the wood. The Roe buck, a three-pointer therefore likely to be three years old or more and two does – the does vary subtly, the larger having a rich tawny red coat and the smaller a drabber sandy brown.

    Occasionally, these Roe Deer are quite vocal – their call reminds me of a small dog’s bark, a beagle perhaps. But this tends to be more common in the autumn. At this time of year in the warm June evenings there seems to be a rule if silence. So much so that if you take your eyes off them they can silently disappear. Indeed they really do seem to melt into air, into thin air.

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