Home

Broken silences

February 26, 2011

At a certain point the balance tips. Early this morning, in spite of the dark and the persistent drizzly rain, a Song Thrush was singing in full voice. It is as if the bird’s determination to express itself would overcome any obstacle even the absence of light itself. To me this seems to show that that the territorial urge has become so strong that nothing will discourage it.

Last night, as I was deep in a book, the dark and silence was broken by the unmistakeable whistling hum which comes from the wings of a Mute Swan in flight.  Presumably disorientated by the lack of visibility, I can only hope that it found its way back to the river. Wildfowl do fly by night but in my experience this usually occurs on moonlit nights and not on nights of poor visibility such as last night. Perhaps this one was disturbed from it’s roost by a fox.

Advertisements

Caution Mermaid crossing

February 24, 2011

After some dull February days it came as a relief this morning to feel that Spring is really happening. The intensity of bird song has increased – the Skylarks of the Town field were in full song and a bolshie Yellowhammer was re-establishing his ground on the railway line. The full throated calls of the Song Thrush, with it’s characteristic regular five repeats, rang out over the Common. There was even a sense that the sun may appear.
Down at the Mermaid, river bank repairs are continuing. The sleeper wall which holds the river in place as it passes under the railway line has finally had to be replaced. There is some doubt as to how long the originals had been in place- the uprights had been pointed by hand and hammered in. I suppose it is possible that these could have been put in by the Victorians during the construction of the railway, but it would be interesting if anybody knows? It was with some relief that I learnt that the timbers which form the narrow crossing over this section are going back on.

late-night owls

February 19, 2011

Roz and Alex have jollied off to Norway for a Cathedral Choir tour. However, the fact that the coach was leaving Tombland at 3.00 in the morning was a bit daunting.  All that struck me was that Brampton retains a far more pleasant atmosphere than the City centre has on a Friday night / Saturday morning. The wildlife in Brampton is a bit less wild as well.

Numbers of Barn Owls are hunting within the parish. Their very presence is often more effective that a village sign in demonstrating that you are nearing home. Mr Crane’s new post and tape fencing has provided useful perches and on my way back from the city; at least two were adorned with owls as I drove home after the coach left. The Barn owls hissing screech is a regular night time sound. It seems to me that territories are being re-established. The Barn Owl population is certainly increasing and they seem so common now, a real contrast with the position ten years ago.

Dawn on a rainy Saturday

February 12, 2011

In the subdued pre-dawn light, the variety of bird song is gradually increasing. The Robins, now well established, defend their bubbles of territory.  In the rain a Song Thrush adds to the mix, perhaps for the first time this year, but then stops.

The Blackbirds seem even less sure of themselves. Contact and alarm calls are the norm, as males seek to carve out an area of garden as their own. Any song, if it ever gets going, is fleeting and unsure. In the undergrowth the Dunnocks shout briefly and move on; their song does not really develop any further and reminds me of the sounds from a toddler’s game of hide and seek.

One notable addition is the song of the Great Tit, only really two notes, but strident, clear and as much a sign of spring as a Song Thrush. It is of limited musical quality and is known to us as “the squeaky wheel-barrow bird”, which just about sums it up.

Waiting for change

February 6, 2011

Strong warm westerly winds bring about changes. Although a few stragglers may remain, it seems that the majority of the winter thrushes (Redwings and Fieldfares) have move back towards their summer quarters. I assume that they are in transit to Scandinavia assisted by a strong tail wind.

The resident thrushes which remain have yet to settle into their breeding territories.  I listen out for the first sign – usually a Mistle Thrush adopts the height of dead Elm near Street Farm as the venue for the early spring song. So far it has not arrived, but it cannot be long. The Mistle Thrush has a strong fluting song for which seems to select the windiest days – perhaps is a week or twos time.

The large flocks of finches appear to have broken up. So much of the anticipation of Spring is derived from what is no longer happening. As I always remember, at migration time it is much easier to spot the first arrival than it is to record the last time you saw one.