• The marsh in Winter

    Midwinter on the marsh. This morning’s sharp frost, a low sun and the chill threat of showers sweeping in from the north, combine to colour and etch the landscape. A section of a rainbow briefly touches the Mill Marsh as a brief squall washes in. A Kestrel is mobbed by a Crow and I hear the high pitched call of an unseen Kingfisher. The river runs high in its banks and the pool below the sluice does not look at all inviting. The dogs and I are thankful for the frost which has made out progress much easier over the muddy well-used river path.

    By the time we reach the Common, the sun has raised the air temperature as long as we keep out of the wind. Moles have pockmarked the drier sections of river bank, but the soke dykes are full and the drains are running. Just below the

    Rainbow on the marsh
    Rainbow on the marsh

    horizon, the sun picks out the colours of cottages.

  • Brampton carol singing 2014

    Thank you to all those who sang carols so heartily under a starlit sky during Christmas Eve around the village. We are grateful those who welcomed us to their door steps and into their houses, to those who delayed or interrupted their meals and helped us celebrate Christmas. You generously donated £212.77 to our collection in aid of the East Anglian Children’s Hospice.

  • Frost in December – winter arrives in the village

    Early December and the first real frost of the month. The grass on the Long Meadow white and brittle. A Kingfisher whirred away downstream in front of us along the Mermaid and, not finding a nearby wide ditch to it’s liking, it doubled back towards us calling loudly and flew up and over the railway embankment in search of quieter reaches. At this time of the year the rich orange breast of the bird glowed in contrast to the dazzling blue of its back.

    All trees except the Oaks have lost their leaves. Around the Field Maples there are pools of yellow leaf-carpets. The Poplars have changed their note in the breeze, now the branches emit a low moan and no longer the sibilant whisper of the leafy early autumn. Strangely, some of the Oak leaves are still quite green and have yet to succumb to the ochre and orange of the discard.

    The finches, mostly Linnets and goldfinches, have gathered in flocks along the ditch side Alders. Their contact calls drift on the breeze.

  • Frosty Sunday morning

    A crystal clear starlit night gives way to the morning garden etched by frost. The air feels fresh and welcoming as we walk out with the dogs. A Woodpecker’s rhythmic drumming resonates from the old oak at the top of the hill. This creates the feeling of anticipation – Spring may be some way off, but it is expected. Territories have to be established, defended and trumpeted. At this time of the year there is little noise to compete with the intermittent rattle that Woodpeckers can generate – at times there appears to be an echo, another bird drums its answer. The two birds swap percussion until one flies off in that curious bounding way to another tree, another territory.

  • Village fox

    January is the time for foxes to establish their territories. Most nights, especially those cold starlit nights, a vixen’s sharp regular calls cut through the air from the old railway line. This particular night the call was much closer. I assume that it may be rich pickings in the immediate post Christmas period – perhaps the remains of a turkey carcass or similar – which draw gem in. This is when I am pleased that we have wheelie bins rather than the old black plastic bags. As I lay in bed, I try and remember whether I have shut the hens in their house and having satisfied myself that this was done, drift back off to sleep.

  • December dawn, with Rooks

    As we approach the shortest day, the morning and evening flights from and to the rookery become more noticeable. Numbers are down as the flocks have somewhat dispersed but the slow and noisy trail of wind-tossed Rooks and Jackdaws across dramatic and often stormy dawn skies is worth a pause and a look.

  • The start of Christmas in the village

    Candles were lit as Christmas Carols returned to Brampton Church at the village carol service on a windy 15th December. Lesson readers drawn from all ages took us steadily through the nativity story. The Vicar, The Rev.Fergus Capie, added to the atmosphere of contemplation amidst celebration with a carefully judged meditation upon the real meaning of Christmas. Joyce Vincent, formerly of Low Farm, who was for so many years the Church Warden of Brampton Church, was a very welcome addition to the congregation. Mulled wine warmed the congregation after the service of lessons and carols. We felt set up and ready for the coming season.

  • Hunger in the hedgerows

    Two Sundays before Christmas. Food in the hedgerows is in short supply. I hear news that a hungry fox has cleared out a hen house at Spratt’s Green. It is certainly at this point in time that the thrushes turn to the Hawthorn berries. Until now they have studiously avoided the bitter red pippy berry, but as we walk along the railway line we follow a cloud of Fieldfares and other thrushes as they work the hedge. They chatter and chortle as we arrive. Then move away as a flock, circle in our wake and settle to their task. Goldfinches and Linnets concentrate upon whatever they can glean along the margins.   Survival has become the key as the period of plenty has ended.

  • Vixen calls

    Woken at 2 in the morning, the shrill cries of a vixen echoed around the valley. She made her way at some speed along the railway line, calling regularly until the distance and wind swallowed the noise.

  • Chill February wind – Winter prepares to leave

    Sunday morning and a chill westerly wind cast a thin veil of ice on the puddles. After yesterday’s glimpses of sunshine the weather had reverted back to a gloomy chill-ridden morning. On the stubble field, alongside the railway line, a large flock of Fieldfares – perhaps a hundred strong – fled at our approach. Flying low and for a short distance they kept a respectable distance from us. Their ‘chuck-chuck’ calls revealing their nervousness.  I wondered whether the flock size was a pre-migration gathering, but their leaving is probably some time off yet.

    The wind whipped along the river Mermaid. A few Woodpigeon, curved their aerial path against the breeze. A Buzzard set its wings and soared just above tree height; a relaxed but string-less kite. Its rich rufous plumagewas illuminated in the thin morning light. After a short while, with a barely perceptible adjustment it alighted in the old ash tree. A Magpie landed nearby a mobbed the Buzzard from a branch a few yards away. Further on, another flock, this time Redwings, fled at our passing. The Winter, we feel, is slipping away.

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