The movement of birds in flocks is becoming more marked as we reach late October. The daily commute of Rooks and Jackdaws seem to fill the shorter daylight hours. Arrowing groups of Starlings head somewhere with purpose. Finches raid the bird table in noisy clusters. Golden Plover continue to stop over mid-migration, but their numbers have declined as the starlit nights assist their onward progress southward.

The frenzy of lead-tugging, sniffing and running back and forth from the dogs as where approached the house reminded me about our new neighbours. Not house neighbours but newish residents of the copse. Just before harvest one of the local Roe deer moved in. I almost tripped over her whilst trying to approach a hawk which happened to be perched nearby. She sprang up from her comfortable lie as soon as I got within ten feet of her. The form of her body left a warm depression in the long grass of the woodland margin. She merely watched me from a reasonable distance, confident that a thirty yard head start was more than enough.

Since then she was joined by a Roebuck, who eyed us from the field with a confident disdain as we walked past along the road.

This evening’s Whippet frenzy merely confirmed the deer’s continued residence. More active at dusk they wander in search of succulent grass as the vegetation becomes more Autumnal and declines in quality.

Last night at Brampton church Norfolk archaeologist, Alice Lyons, delivered a detailed and enlightening talk upon the Roman history of the village. Or, more specifically, the Roman town which originally lay to the south of the current settlement. A site of both pottery and leather manufacture at a scale unmatched anywhere else in Roman Britain. A site of 150 permanent pottery kilns at Brampton at a time when a 20 kiln site would have been considered big. Busy wharves loading shallow drafted coastal shipping, a stone built bathhouse in an otherwise timber built town. A key communication hub with access to the sea and to major arterial routes. Altogether a contrast to the modern village – how times change.

Alice rounded off the talk by showing some fine examples of Dr Knowles’, and others, finds from the 1970s excavations. These come from those which are held collection in the Norwich Castle museum. She followed this by identifying pottery shards found locally. It was generally agreed that if ever the chance to publish the Knowles archives at the museum, it should be grasped. Perhaps a project for Crowd-funding.

This morning a plaintive whistling drifted down from a hundred-strong flock of Golden Plover. They circled over the Town Field and banked towards their favoured ground. Each Autumn and Spring they call In for a brief respite on their migration from the Arctic tundra to their African wintering quarters. Always the same place. Nearly always at the same time. Their contact calls can be heard on clear starlit nights as they reconvene in ever larger flocks. A little piece of the wild north drifts through the village with a promise of cooling air.

Deer on the Equinox

September 23, 2014

Dusk on the Autumnal equinox in Brampton. Light is fading fast and, as we wander home with the dogs, the barking calls of deer echo across the valley. Roe Deer have spread their territories either side of the river and every copse seems to have its resident deer. The calls come from a buck. Invisible somewhere near Keeper’s Wood at Oxnead, his calls chime regularly, a bell like rasping with a hint of dog-like alarm as he rounds up his harem. On the Town Field we can just make out the russet silhouette of another Roe Buck – he watches us carefully as we walk slowly past, before starting to graze once more. (I have a suspicion that he is responsible for the delicately nibbled sweet corn on the allotment). We arrive home with a distinct sense of the arrival of Autumn.

Trees in the early Autumn

September 23, 2014

At the end of what can only be described as a fantastic growing season – for crops, for the garden, for trees and shrubs – the leaves on the trees are ageing rapidly. Not a spectacular Autumn in terms of colour, but as the night time temperatures fall, leaves are dropping from some trees quite suddenly. Ash on the railway line, in at least in one case this week, drop their leaves overnight. The Poplar leaves drift down in ones and twos. Oaks, as ever, cling on to their leaves. It is clear that the huge growth, that all trees put on this year, makes most of them more susceptible to the colder nights.


September 23, 2014

As we walk the long meadow opposite Oxnead Mill, a Peregrine Falcon soars high overhead. Their shape and flight is so familiar to us now – they have been resident at the Cathedral for five years – that it does not seem so unusual. I still find it thrilling to see them. As a boy they were that rare, almost mystical species that I would only see in a Ladybird Book illustration, That is except For one memorable sighting at a Shap Granite Quarry in Cumberland on a school field trip. Now, we can admire their raw power in Norwich. As well as at Oxnead.


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