• Brampton Spring: Easter Sunday – departures and arrivals

    The morning of Easter Sunday is clear and bright. The fresh southerly breeze of yesterday afternoon has delivered change. This morning Spring migrants have arrived. Only last Thursday the Winter Thrushes, Fieldfare and Redwings, were gathering on the freshly ploughed Church Field. By Good Friday they had left for the tundra.

    This morning a single Swallow swooped around Fern Cottage, vibrant chattering call announcing its arrival. The garden near Pear Tree Pyghtle echoes to the persistent call of a Chiffchaff. A flock of Golden Plover drift around on the strong breeze directly over the village; their melodic, almost mournful, whistling calls gently shower down. The flock numbers forty or so, perhaps more. They stopover for a few days in Spring and Autumn – centring on the same fields and occasionally setting off on circular flights around the parish calling as they go. To me this is the real sign that Spring is here.

  • Brampton Spring – Palm Sunday

    The Island was full of Snipe. As we walked along the footpath they spring from the river margin singly and in groups, or “Wisps” as they are known – such a descriptive collective noun; covering both their alarm call and their diminutive and rapidly scattering disappearance. Yesterday’s northerly breeze has calmed and it was now so Spring-like. A promise of warmer weather in the week ahead.

    David reports of a flock of chattering birds in the river Alders – from their size, noise and description we wonder if they were Waxwings pausing briefly on their way north.

  • Mild weather, but for the birds, hedgerow food supplies start to run low

    The weather may be mild, but the winter thrushes are rapidly working their way through the hedgerow reserves. Two weeks ago they targeted the Hawthorns – the red berries were stripped over a couple of days. Flocks of Fieldfares and Redwings worked systematically from bush to bush, their rasping and piping calls filling the air as we disturb them. This morning the self sown apple tree in the railway cutting was the target – the apples soften on the branch or fall easily making them the favoured fruit. The bullet hard and bitter Sloes remain untouched; except of course by their human harvesters who have started their gin concoctions.

  • Autumn encounter

    During the Autumn twilight a pair of Roe deer made their silent way out from the woodland edge. The breeze blew gently in our faces so they continued unaware that they were being watched. Unaware that is until one of our restless dogs gave the game away. The doe looked up and eyed us cautiously. There was no flight for safety. Instead they ambled quietly along the old hedge line and carried on with their foraging.

    Roe in the gloaming
    Roe in the gloaming

  • Deer in October

    As I drive out of the village each morning, three deer watch. They stand knee-high amongst the sugar beet. Their coats have turned into an Autumn hue of dark russet brown, the red fox gloss of Summer having long gone. The Buck only relaxes as I am just about to drive under the bridge. They return to their task – grazing to build up their fat reserves.

  • September wake of Buzzards

    Warm afternoons in September often bring the Buzzards through. The local family group or “wake” maintain contact with one another with their mewing cries. They share a thermal but not at a single altitude – I tend to notice the lowest first and then, as my eyes adjust, another, then a third and a fourth. Each higher than the last. The group seem to circle lazily, but then you become aware how far and fast they are drifting. They are watching, scanning, looking. Gathering as if at a funeral. A wake of Buzzards.

  • Dawn in Late August

    As Summer gives way to the onset of Autumn, the noise of Rooks and Jackdaws becomes the sound marker for dawn. Weeks have elapsed since we heard the last of the dawn choruses of early Summer. Now, it is bird movement which gives rise to noise – Rooks leaving their roosts call to one another as they stream towards the stubble fields and freshly cultivated land. The Jackdaws seem to treat this event as a joyride. In contrast to the steady purposeful flight of the Rooks, the Jackdaws swoop and sport in small groups whilst calling in a loud cacophony.

  • The little things make all the difference

    A bit of gravel (OK 1 3/4 tonnes) makes everything look more presentable.
    A bit of gravel (OK 1 3/4 tonnes) makes everything look more presentable.

    The churchyard has had a bit of a polish: newly painted gates thanks to Jenny and William; a topped up gravel path (courtesy of Tim, Richard, Fiona and Roz)and its first trim. The cutting of the churchyard, by Clive of Norse Ltd, follows a careful pattern – balancing the need to gain access to the graveyard with the conservation interest which involves allowing set areas to grow wild whilst the flowers seed and the daffodils die-back. The whole looks a real picture.

  • Brampton Spring, or is it Summer: in the garden

    The Anglo-Saxons, who felt the changing year more keenly than we do, referred to 9th May as the beginning of Summer. (For a more expert view I recommend the blog A Clerk of Oxford http://aclerkofoxford.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/summer-sun-brightest-anglo-saxon-summer.html ). So often I find myself agreeing with the Anglo-Saxon view. Rogationtide, that three day run up to Ascension Day, starts tomorrow and fits neatly into the turning of the seasonal calendar.

    I am sitting in the garden as I write. From time to time a shower of Cherry blossom drifts down – not caused by “rough winds” but by a gentle breeze that stirs the top branches, before dying down again. A Blackbird sings from a nearby fir, a Blackcap from the copse, Swifts scream whilst twisting and turning overhead. The strong insistent song of a Wren bursts out just before it dives into its nest, tucked in the porch rafters. Rather worryingly for the garden, Woodpigeons have taken up residence within striking distance of the young Sweet Peas. But their mellifluous repetitive song just adds to the meditative atmosphere of the garden.

    The Cuckoo has been silent in the valley for three days since announcing its arrival last Thursday. I have noticed this before – a settling in period, before the period of persistent song arrives in earnest. When they do get going Cuckoos travel up and down the river valley and I have been lucky enough to see their nuptial flight (or their territorial battle, depending upon your interpretation), more than once at this time of the year.

  • Brampton Spring: good news from 7th May

    May 7th, the parish Hawthorns are flowering and, as we walk to the Village Hall Polling station, a Cuckoo calls from David’s marsh. The Cuckoo is somewhat later than last year – obviously waiting on a favourable wind and warmer weather.

    As we left the Hall, other summer visitors, a group of Swifts, screamed as they wheeled over the village street. This was the first real sighting of these much awaited visitors, although I could have sworn that I heard one on Sunday 3rd May.

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