May 5, 2016
Cuckoos are mysterious. It is in their nature. Since the first Brampton Cuckoo arrived and started calling on Easter Sunday, there has been a suspicious silence. In fact it was only very early this morning that I heard another Cuckoo calling and since then, nothing.
This is however, so often the case. I am not convinced that it is purely down to a decline in Cuckoo numbers. In most years we still have a population. It may be that as a species they travel over large distances in order to find a mate and until this is completed they don’t settle – this does seem to be borne out by radio tracking data published by the British Trust for Ornithology. On their records Cuckoos travel widely before they home into the areas from which they originated (or so it seems).
In any event, I watch, listen and wait.
May 5, 2016
The return of Swifts to the village sky makes this a red letter day. News of their reappearance elsewhere in England was announced all over Twitter yesterday – I can’t quite fathom out why Gloucestershire should see them before we do in Norfolk, but that was how it appeared. Brampton Swifts waited until Ascencion day.
Walking back from the polling station, having been notified by Bill, there they were a circling group of eight Swifts over the village houses. Their sharp calls cutting through the air. It was noticeable that there was a hatch of flies about at ground level, so no doubt their arrival was somehow timed. From experience they will circle no gather for a few days before starting to return to roof eve nest sites. Sadly these sites have become fewer over the years as cottage roofs are repaired and gaps sealed up – the Swifts are barred from their age old sites. There is a real need for more Swift nest boxes to be constructed and installed.
April 20, 2016
The Cuckoo is slightly early this year; announcing his presence with a circuit of the village at 5.15 this morning. In the clear, slightly chilly morning air his call was clear and close – the closer they are, the more the syllables separate. His aerial tour continued to the river, calling all the way.
April 17, 2016
For some days now we have been scanning the skies for the early morning Buzzard whose call drifts across the village. The strange thing being that Buzzards are not normally early risers. The tend to wait for the warmer air which makes their thermal-borne soaring survey so much easier. This one seemed to be an early bird. Then it became clear. The Buzzard in the copse, in which the trees look too spindly to support a bird of any size, was not a Buzzard at all. The call was that of a mimic; a Jay, which seemed to be chortling quietly to itself as it hopped away – happy to have caused a little confusion in the garden.
April 17, 2016
The dawn chorus is reaching a new intensity. The song of the natives, such as the Robin and the Wren, is being strengthened by the complex warblings of newly arrived summer visitors. Setting aside the monotony of the Chiffchaff’s two-note, the chorus has been expanded by other members of the Warbler clan. Blackcaps and Garden Warblers can now be be heard – they seem to have upped the general volume with their full-throated tunes. They seem to be making themselves at home in the shrubby wildernesses of copses and marshy areas which are scattered through the parish. We wait for the Cuckoo.
As for the trees, the Oaks buds are starting to burst, many Sycamores are out, the Hawthorns are a rich green. The Ashes are yet to show. The Blackthorns, or those which have survived the scorched earth policy of the over zealous clearance of the Bure Valley Railway, are adorned with snow fresh blossom.
March 27, 2016
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.