Evening sky

October 30, 2011

On Friday night the autumn sky was at it’s best in the early evening. Jupiter was rising over Oxnead.

In the west a star flashed with so much red and green that at first we mistook it for an aircraft. It was eventually identified as Arcturus, one of the brightest stars in the night sky and part of the constellation Bootes. It was sobering to learn that the star light which we saw was leaving it’s source, over 200 trillion miles away, when Abba released the single ‘Waterloo’ – although this meant more to Helen than it did to me. To find this star we followed the direction tail of the plough in a gentle curve.

After all this deep space thought it was a relief to call in at the village club for a beer and game of darts.

This morning a walk along the Bure revealed how the damp autumnal season has settled in. A pair of Wigeon spring from the river at our approach. A duck more commonly seen on the large grazing marshes of the north Norfolk coast or the Yare valley, they had clearly found the Bure to be an attractive point to pause. Until we came along.

On the Common the cattle continue to graze for the last few days before they come off for the winter. They will soon be heading for the warmth of their winter housing. In the mean time they are doing a fine job of tidying up the last of the seasons grass.

Autumn on the Common

The better the finish this season, the better the pasture will be in 2012. Along the margins there are numbers of Snipe – the small brown wader shoots off in a jinking flight with a rasping and repeating “scarp” call.

Loose flocks of Redwings skip from one thicket of berry-bearing thorns to the next. Their weedy ‘tseep’ call giving away their presence.

Dusk in October

October 5, 2011

Last night the light levels were falling at seven o’clock, but not fast enough for our purposes. It was too light for the river bats. Howver we walked the river bank as the light levels fell. Silence descended as the evening shift took over.

The light was sufficient in one way – as a pair of Mute Swans drifted upstream into the gathering dusk, we stopped at the stile and a movement caught our eye. The Otter dived and re-surfaced in a gentle arc before proceeding soundlessly downstream past us. It’s movement was purposeful and showed no sign of nerves, although it hugged the opposite bank before gliding into the gloom.

We walked back down the Street in the company of numerous Tawny Owls which broke the silence with loud calls aslively territorial exchanges. It was as if everything was active again after the unseasonable heat of the day.

Golden horde

October 2, 2011

Sunset on Friday coincided with the evening arrival of a congregation of Golden Plover. A circling flock of forty or so birds whistled in their plaintive way. Every year they gather on the parish – I have always assumed that it is a traditional stopping place on their way south, but their stay is often a prolonged one. It is of course impossible to be certain whether we see the same flock for a number of weeks or whether we sit on a migration route and thus see many flocks passing through.

The call is unmistakeable. They often fly by starlight and their contact calls drift down from unseen groups. Surprisingly they do not seem to favour low lying pasture land as a roosting site, instead they select higher (height being entirely relative) arable fields alongside the old roman road. I like to imagine that this location has been favoured for a
long time, perhaps centuries, as it is a site offering good views and resultant protection from predators.