Water bats

September 25, 2011

Bat detecting is addictive. A warmish evening spent at Oxnead Bridge reveals the usual Pipistrelles but it is the river bat that we went to find. These bats, more properly known at the Daubenton’s Bat, hunt low over the surface of the river, sometimes seeming to touch the surface or scoop it’s prey. A whirring flight at a constant height low over the river surface is characteristic – this evening the run was between the Bridge and the next corner upstream. It was active just after dusk and the best view was from the base of the bridge on the Brampton side. We walked home in the gathering dark and reluctantly left the sounds (and the ravenous midges) behind us.

To roost

September 20, 2011

In nearby woods, the winter roosts of Rook and Jackdaw have started to build up. On Sunday we watched the aerial display of 500 or so of both species as they wheeled, called and wheeled again above wood. Their display is a mixture of indecision and bravado; you could even say there was just plain enjoyment in their formation flying.

The Jackdaws are the most nimble – they are the sportiest fliers of the crow family (although the Chough, a cliff dwelling crow from the western cliffs runs them very close in this). Without a discernible signal between them, they rise and fall as one calling onstantly as they go. After ten minutes or more of a roller-coastering flight, a roosting site is chosen and the flock pours like liquid into the wood. The Rooks are slower in flight, but till the collective display is practiced until the declining light forces them to land.

Summer visitors have gone

September 17, 2011

It was a small group of House Martins over the Cathedral Close which alerted me to their going. Last Sunday a similar group was hawking for insects over the village. By Tuesday they had gone. Now all I expect to see is the occasional laggard – perhaps just passing through from a northern summer.

Perhaps the superb full moon on Monday night was the trigger. I am told that the same moon drew in the wintering Pink-Footed Geese to the North Norfolk Coast. This is the time of change – the overlap between fleeing summer visitors and the winter arrivals.

Roebuck wakes

September 4, 2011

The Roebuck burst out of the Blackthorn hedge. It seemed that his nerve had failed him as we passed by – perhaps the whippet’s scent had been the trigger. He made his way with some speed towards the main road and then turned east and crossed the field, carefully negotiating the potato ridges until he reached the stubble. At this point he looked indignantly back at us before cantering slowly towards the eastern hedge. After waiting for a car or two to pass he pushed his way through a gap and disappeared from view into the beet field.

A few evenings ago as we walked the dogs, two deer were to be seen silhouetted against the evening afterglow on the field behind the Rectory. I suppose that this buck was one of them. He had planned to pass the day secure in the wide hedge bottom, that is until we blundered along and spoilt his plan.