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There are newly fledged birds throughout the parish. Young Swallows hawk in family groups over the ripening barley alongside the railway line. They occasionally perch precariously on a wire fence whilst their parents fly around in escort duty. This must be their first foray – their short tails give away their relative youth and their approach has an air of easily distracted youth about it.
Down at Oxnead Mill the Kingfishers call constantly as their progeny explore the immediate territory for the first time. They are still being fed and the parents run a shuttle service up and down stream calling as they approach with newly caught fish. 
As I approach the Town Field a young Buzzard rises from its perch in a scrubby oak. A few falls of its wings before it gathers the rising air and sails higher in a spiralling vortex. I watch it scanning the ground as it circles higher.  

On a lovely late-June morning the climbing rose, Paul’s Himalayan Musk, is at it’s peak. Having clambered up to the main branches of a Birch tree in the garden, the flowers are bright in the morning sunshine. 

   

A Barn Owl, one of the Hall Farm pair, watches intently from a convenient fence post on the Long Meadow. Not all hunting is on the wing, sometimes watching and waiting does the job. Shortly after this photo was taken the Owl gently dropped on an unsuspecting mouse and before flying off  

 towards its hungry brood.

Roses on a June morning

June 13, 2015

It is too easy to fail to notice the Dog Roses on the old railway line. But this morning, on a relatively war but overcast Saturday, the pinky white blossoms glow. It is a good year for the roses – at least the hedgerow ones – indeed the bushes have put on enormous growth since that cold Spring which held everything back.  

 

The Mill Pool Wagtail

May 27, 2015

Every year the Grey Wagtail raises a brood from a nest tucked away in the masonry of the Mill sluice. On a warm morning such as this, she takes full advantage of the prolific hatch of Mayfly. She paused for a short whilst perched midstream in the millpond before setting off again in her hunt for more and more insects to feed her hungry nestlings.  

So far, the weather during Whitsun has been ideal. Warm days with the ocassional shower have helped the hedgerows, meadows and banks to burgeon. It has led to that ideal combination, the rich and varied greens topped with the whites and creams of Hawthorn and Cow Parsley. Just before the lanes have, out of safety and necessity, to be mown back, we have enjoyed the rich diversity of it all. No frost of any note has court back the blossom, so in time we should enjoy a fruitful Autumn. 

 

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.

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