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Start of autumn

August 30, 2011

As we have slipped seamlessly into autumn the weather should improve. House Martins and Swallows gather in small flock by the river. It is early yet, but it is probably that small parties are heading south for the winter. There is anticipation of movement and migration in the air. As I walked out with the whippets this morning a group of Golden Plover flew over, their whistling call gently descending. Are these early winter arrivals or, more likely, movements between UK sites?

It is the time to keep an eye open for migrating birds of prey. Anything can turn up over the next two months. The Hobby will follow the Swallows. Buzzards will ride the thermals and Ospreys may call in to the Broads in late September.

Scent of an Otter

August 21, 2011

This morning the scent of an Otter was distinct and musty along the river bank.  At first we thought it was the smell of a fox but it was, I anything, more pungent and concentrated in an area of long grass within three yards of the river itself.  I have no proof – there were no discernible foot prints or spraint – but it seems a reasonable conjecture.

Bure in late Summer

August 21, 2011

The late summer river seems to be in transition into it’s autumn guise. Kingfishers are more regularly encountered all along the river and further afield as the summer’s progeny spread out. This morning’s encounter on the meander below the Cradle Bridge was typical; a heighted pitched call, a whirr of orange and blue as the bird banked away from the river in order to give us a wide berth.  River levels have risen again after the sluices have been closed after yesterday’s low. Weed clearance from two weeks ago has done some good. Large piles of dragged weed lie at intervals along the bank. Silt levels look to be quite high.  An autumnal smell of rotting vegetation sets the scene.

Hobby

August 14, 2011

Saturday afternoon and with clear predatory intent a Hobby is circling the lower end of the village.  Swallows call in alarm and seem to dash about in panic. The falcon circles effortlessly in a wide arc and, when it seems to be satisfied that there are no potential targets, it drifts southwards towards Dudwick. The Swallows seem to take some time to calm down. There was a collective holding of breath.

Wednesday

August 10, 2011

One of those mornings in Brampton. Two sightings of birds which were distinctly out of place. The unmistakeable, whirring shape and arrow like flight of a Kingfisher. It caught me out somewhat – we were walking along the railway line and at least 400 yards away from the river as the bird flew towards Dudwick. A flash of turquoise blue confirmed it’s identity.

A little further round and the scything wings of the Hobby shot between the Church and Brampton Hall. Travelling at speed at roof height – as when I last saw one in the village back in June – this small falcon almost seems to leave an electrical charge in the air in its wake. Such speed leaves you wondering whether you had actually seen it or not.

Then, as we sat over a cup of coffee upon our return, there was a rush of wings and a cloud of feathers in the garden as a female Sparrowhawk struck a Collared Dove. Both disappeared towards Street Farm at such speed that we were unable to see how this ended.

Later on, the Roe Doe accompanied by two fauns grazed quietly on the margins of the wheat field. All watched us carefully from what they felt to be a safe distance.

Swift departure

August 10, 2011

Departure of Swifts is a signing of summer slipping away.

Since our return from the Lakeland Fells, there is a noticeable absence of Swifts in the village. At the end of July the enlarged family groups were racing around the roof tops. But at or around the 10th August they had gone. If this followed the usual pattern the screaming parties would have followed the insect clouds higher into the sky before making the judgement to head south. Presumably this would happen by chance as the followed the southward drift of their food species or, perhaps, they made some instinctive judgement that the weather was set in an advantageous pattern for southerly migration. Now if we see Swifts I assume that they are late brood migrants or perhaps travellers from further north.