• Autumn gold

    A quiet morning in the village. Hardly a breath of wind and an overcast sky – calm and more settled weather as predicted by yesterday’s fiery sunset. As we walk back to the cottage, a flight of 25 Golden Plover sail overhead in formation, their gentle whistling call drifting down.  These Plovers are regular visitors en route during their spring and autumn migrations. They always seem to choose the same fields on which inch to congregate, presumably for the safety derived from their relative height, size and aspect. Their numbers fluctuate as parties arrive and leave but their collective visit extends to weeks rather than days. On many occasions, as I lay in bed during a clear moonlit night, their whistling calls remind me of the tundra and their northern origins

  • An Autumn Saturday and bulb planting is underway in the village. Not guerrilla gardening as such, but part of a Parish Council plan to provide an uplift to the village scene. Species Crocus around the village sign and wild Daffodils around he bus shelter will hopefully provide a splash of colour next Spring (as long as we planted the bulbs the right way up…..!).
  • September deer

    A Roe doe and her faun are now venturing further from their woodland sanctuary. Her coat the colour of wet sand. The faun, about half her size, is sporting an outsized and full-grown pair of ears which rotate and twitch nervously as we pass. The doe stares intently at us but shows little sign of imminent flight. They resume grazing as we disappear from view

  • Early Autumn roost

    Dusk. The Rooks and Jackdaws return to roost at Oxnead with a cacophony of noise. Their numbers have swelled. On Sunday night I tried to count them, but soon gave up. There must be 1500 birds or more in the gathering flock. Their flight lines ebb and swell like Starlings. Pouring into the Poplars they continue to call until one certain point when they are settled and silence floats down. The dark descends and they are quiet until first light – or so it appears.

  • Flight of the Summer falcon: For me Summer of 2012 ended at 8.45 on 2nd September.

    For me Summer of 2012 ended at 8.45 on 2nd September. The swallows were gathering in groups around Hall barns. Further down Church Lane a single Swallow circled the doctor’s house uttering an urgent hawk-alarm call. Looking up we spotted the cause of it’s concern, a falcon was in the vicinity and was climbing the thermal-free air. The effort was obvious; with wing beats which reminded my of a trapped butterfly against a window pane, the falcon worked to gain height in a wide upward spiral. It was surely reaching for height, seeking the support of a constant breeze.
    The Hobby is a summer visitor and this year it’s electrifying presence had been very evident. A hunting territory seemingly centring on the village with it’s plentiful food supply. But now it was time to go – probably to follow the favoured prey species, the Martins, Swallows and Dragonflies. The cooler night air was already encouraging their departure and the Hobby must follow suit.
    I followed the falcon’s progress. As it crossed the orb of the Sun, it started to diminish to a dot and eventually melted into the upper air.

  • Clear water

    This morning the Bure was beautifully transparent. Many Brown Hawker dragonflies hunt in the air around us as we glide downstream. At the confluence with King’s Beck, a Kingfisher called and whirred its way past us. In the river itself, groups of Whirligig Beetles live up to their name, whilst below Pike gave themselves away by the gentle flutter of their pelvic fins and the cruel stare of their hunter’s eye. At Bream Corner one large specimen hangs in the slow current as we pass by and then slips imperceptibly to the sanctuary of a deep weed bed. The Canoe Man shepherds a party of canoeists up to Oxnead – the party a picture of enjoyment and first-time exploration

  • New jewels

    This morning’s soaring temperatures have brought a welcome crop of new butterflies. On our way round with the dogs, a Buddleja at Romany Cottage was laden with newly-minted Peacock butterflies. Seemingly no more than a few days old, their wing colours are vibrant and polished. They stand out amongst the more weather-beaten Red Admirals and Commas which have been flying for some time. A single Painted Lady bustled about – possibly a migrant from the continent as the steady winds have been from a south-easterly direction for the last few days.

  • Buddleja and butterfly hunting

    Mid August and the village street is filled with the über-sweet scent of Buddleja bushes. Several large bushes have established themselves at key points along the village street. A particularly large specimen has taken up a prime spot on the edge of then allotments, another – it’s racemes a rich pink – marks the junction with Back Lane, others are sprinkled liberally in gardens along the way. Brampton people favour Buddlejas.
    The reason for this is of course, the plant’s ability to attract butterflies. Until this recently this has not been a good butterfly year, the weather has been against them, particularly earlier on. So, I am keenly looking to see whether there will be a late summer flush of butterflies. The wait has not been all in vain; the last two weeks has seen quite a few Commas on the wing – rich patterned brown with their filigree cut hind- wing, Red Admirals have been relatively abundant, but as yet no Painted Ladies. Cabbage Whites are causing anxiety on the allotment. Gatekeepers we’ve their way along the hedgerows. There have been few if any Tortoiseshells, so far.
    There is still time. Hence the Buddleja watching. We wait.

  • Dragonflies and carnage

    One flying insect group that is showing well this year are the Dragonflies. Yesterday evening a splendid Southern Hawker patrolled the Street near Common Lane and the railway line is graced with a number of other varieties. The Wide Bodied Chaser is a particular favourite. Dragonflies names mainly concentrate on the subjects hunting methods. “They do what they say on the tin”, so to speak.
    A couple of years ago we watched many species as they gathered to catch a prolific outpouring of flying ants from their nests in the railway cutting. The action was brutal, graceful and mesmerising all at the same time. We sat entranced as the hunters gathered around the emerging prey, the action probably continued on into the evening after we had moved on. But only for that day, at that temperature and at that point in the ant colony’s life cycle. Thankfully some of the emerging flying ants did get away. Either the perfect aerial hunting insect has some weaknesses or they were satiated. Nature has ways of balancing the odds.

  • Out and about on a July morning

    An idyllic early July morning. As we walk out with the dogs along the old railway line, we
    seem to have the world to ourselves – or almost. Ahead, a Barn Owl has its now usual spat with a Sparrowhawk – they briefly lock talons again before the hawk shoots off. Both predators are working hard to support growing offspring. The Sparrowhawk, in particular, seems to be hunting constantly, his presence given away by the twitter of mobbing Swallows. The Swallows’ call instantly draws attention of prey species and us – the birdsong goes quiet until the perceived danger has passed. Near Keeper’s Wood a single Roe doe keeps a close eye on us from 80 yards distance and then slips seemingly unconcerned, back into the trees. The sun is hot but a welcome wind keeps temperatures down.

    We hear news of Golden Orioles, but our wish for a sighting is not answered. This brightly
    coloured continental birds, somewhat resembling large thrushes in size, are known to breed in the UK and we hope that their presence in the area is a good sign. Orioles are supposed to be especially fund of the canopy provided by Poplar trees, so they should feel at home here.

    Barking sounds emanate from the woods. The Roe Deer rut is in full swing or so it
    seems. Yesterday evening their enthusiastic, somewhat primeval barks echoed along the village street as midsummer darkness descended.

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