• Deer arrivals

    The grass is in ear and it is probably serving to hide the newly arrived Roe Deer fauns. It has been noticeable that the female Roes have, over the last few weeks, tended to split away from their family groups.
    Each one appears to have settled in an acre or two of it’s own. This is a sure sign that the fauns have either arrived or are about to do so. The expectant mothers are twitchy – if one is unintentionally disturbed it will dash away, but they seem to make such a fuss of it that it looks like distraction behaviour; clearly leading the intruder away from the central site, possibly where the faun is laid up. Luckily the local walkers are keeping their distance. It has to be said that the Roebucks are not keeping their distance – the mating season or rut
    starts soon after the females have given birth – so the bucks are very attentive where allowed.
  • Street falcon

    The Hobby flew down the village street at eaves height. So fast did it appear and disappear that I was left dumbfounded as I stared into its wake. The small hawk, sickle winged, jinked and swerved in its run. Its wings alternately swept back and outstretched in that fluid flight that it so characteristic of this type of hawk. I assume that the blustery conditions had forced the usual quarry – whether it be House Martins or large insects – down to street level. In any event this visit was fruitless for the hawk, but at this speed it will cover a large area and eventually successfully strike.


    The full moon rose into the clear night sky above Low Farm as the flames took hold of
    the beacon. At the required 10.01 pm the beacon had been expertly lit as the culmination to the village’s Diamond Jubilee event. It was the sort of event that Brampton does best. The mood was relaxed and friendly – an afternoon and evening mixture of party, barbecue and picnic had been going on all evening at Low Farm.

    It was almost a almost a tribal gathering. Hosted by Kiwi Andy and by Jill. Andy, clearly an expert in outdoor living, conjured fire at the right moments, whether it be barbecue, fire-pit or beacon. Others had cast a little magic, Jilly and her superb cakes and a particularly potent mix of Pimms from the shed-girls. There were renewals of acquaintance and the  grape vine of conversation was re-established.

    Over the evening, over eighty people dropped by and most stayed until the end in order
    to see the beacon lit as part of the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution’s country wide chain of Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Beacons. There was no doubt that the Brampton beacon could be seen and there was a palpable element of pride felt in taking part.

    We remembered Joyce, who surely would have like to have been there. Low Farm, so
    long her home with her late husband Stanley Vincent, still managed to generate memories as I walked over the mown grounds on what were once the vegetable and flower gardens of the old house.

    The village has changed and become younger again, but it has somehow managed to retain something of it’s original independent spirit. They do things differently here. An event all falls in place quite naturally. Some but not too much planning and a collective effort serve to create a new memory and the parting comment that it had been “…great fun and we must do something similar next June”.

    [Photos to come]

  • Flight of deer

    One of the two does is more flighty than the other. It is the first to make for the security of Keeper’s Wood as we approach. We, it should be said, are at some eighty yards distance, penned into the old railway track behind a row of Ash trees. The gentle south easterly breeze aided our approach. It is often difficult to get closer with the wind behind you which carries your scent to the deer very quickly, allowing them to gentle sidle closer to cover. This evening, we had the advantage. The Roebuck, who looks in fine condition, merely looked across at us. But, that flighty doe decided enough was enough and ran for cover taking the other doe and the reluctant buck with her. I can’t help thinking that the buck followed, not out of fear, but in the interest of keeping an eye on how two female companions.

  • Swifts landing

    After at least ten weeks of permanent flight Swifts are inspecting possible nest sites in the roofs of Brampton cottages. As Fiona quietly weeded her garden below, I watched one such Swift execute a deeply curled spiralling approach which ended in a small up-tick as it folded its wings and grasped some little purchase against the tile on the eaves of Trinity Cottage. It must be something like trying to park a car in a garage after approaching at 100 miles per hour, after spending months on the motorway. It only feels like Summer as the groups of Swifts race around the houses, with their high pitched screaming which seems to be borne out of pure exhilaration.

  • On an Otter’s trail

    There is a distinct pattern of bubbles that mark the trail of a submerged Otter. They burst at the waters surface and mark the route of an agile mammal moving at some speed. This evenings were typical; swimming at what must have been no more than say a foot’s depth, where the River Mermaid joins the Bure, the line of bubbles was a like row of silver coins – each a few inches apart in a curving trail under the footbridge. The Otter kept submerged until the safety of the overhanging willow where it invisibly surfaced before diving to the sanctuary of the deeper waters of the Bure. We waited to see if would return, perhaps racked with the supposed curiosity of mammals of this type, but it had obviously seen enough of us and had retired out if sight.

  • Cuckoo returns

    At last the Brampton Cuckoo has put in an appearance. On Tuesday night, on the Karnser, it called from a low perch, with that call that is more of a “whoop-you” than a Cuckoo. It is noticeable that the calls of birds which have evolved for transmitting over large distances so often seem distorted when heard from close by. This one flew with that weak falcon shaped silhouette eastwards along the marsh hedge, it’s grey plumage and paler undersides showing clearly in the light of the setting sun. Jenny tells me that she heard it call on Sunday evening, in which case it beat the BTO monitored Cuckoos back to the UK, but for my own record the 2nd May must the date in the book – the latest over the last few years.

  • May day Swifts

    As May day draws to a close, a familiar sight returns to the skies over the village. The bow shape and screaming call signals the return of Swifts. Their visit is all too short, but this year they appear to have beaten the cuckoos to their summer grounds. At least I think these are Brampton Swifts – they are also possibly in passage to more northerly climes. But for the time being at least, they are signs of the imminence of summer and Brampton Swifts they must be.

  • Waiting for the Cuckoo 2

    Still yet, neither sight nor sound of a Cuckoo in the village; over the years they have arrived at any time between 20th April and the 1st May.  Indeed in 2011 they were not in evidence until the latter date. According to the BTO the most northerly of the satellite-monitored Norfolk Cuckoos was recorded on Friday evening as being hunkered down somewhere just south of Paris and east of Orleans near the village of Chatillon-Coligny. No surprise that the NE winds have slowed its progress. The next signal transmission is expected on Monday morning, by which time it may be back in the Yare Valley in Norfolk. One thing we do know is that when it arrives it will be confronted by a very wet landscape, yesterday’s rain took us to a monthly total of 4 inches, over 200% of the monthly average for April. Other parts of Norfolk have had even more.

  • First Swallows arrive

    This morning, before the rains returned, two Swallows swooped and turned over the grazing meadows. I wondered whether they felt that they had arrived too
    early as the weather turned to rain. The last swallows that I had seen were the late leaving laggards of last autumn, but the spring arrivals in north-west Spain. They flew around in the warmth of a Barcelona evening amongst the Parakeets and Spotless Starlings of the Parc de la Cuitadella; the wet northern spring must come as quite a shock.

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