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If you have faith in the Herbal guides, a walk along the railway line in Brampton can seem like a cure-all. Not only by the pure pleasure of walking, but by careful scrutiny of the wild flowers and herbs which have colonised the banks and verges. The shallow soil and dry conditions form a habitat for many medicinal plants. This year’s late onset of warm weather has brought many species on together. Many, apparently, carry benefits to the digestion in it’s various stages (Cranesbill, Cleavers and Herb Bennett), give relief from cuts and stings (Plantain) and some have the additional benefit of treating sword wounds and warding off witches (St John’s Wort). Thankfully not much call for all of these in Brampton this year.

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Neither the Oak nor the Ash triumphed in the race to be the first into full leaf this year.  So although I cannot claim to have knowingly met an old wife; they have had to forget their theory of long-term weather forecasting based upon the result (“Oak before Ash…etc.”). The sudden improvement in the weather has encouraged every plant to develop at once. As this photograph shows, taken upon one morning this week, each species was pushing it’s leaves out at the same time.  As they did so, the Hawthorn flowers were arriving in all their glory. Then without a further backward glance Spring turns to Summer.

Oak or Ash - all emerge together

 of this natural traffic-calming measure. In my view always there for too short a time before Highway’s Authority tidiness means that it has to be cut to allow cars to speed through the lanes with impunity. In the mean time the natural display set off with the blue of Germander Speedwell (what an apt name) is better than artificial set that Chelsea has to offer.

Late Spring deer

May 14, 2012

One of the two does is more flighty than the other. It is the first to make for the security of Keeper’s Wood as we approach. We, it should be said, are at some eighty yards distance, penned into the old railway track behind a row of Ash trees. The gentle south easterly breeze aided our approach. It is often difficult to get closer with the wind behind you which carries your scent to the deer very quickly, allowing them to gentle sidle closer to cover. This evening, we had the advantage. The Roebuck, who looks in fine condition, merely looked across at us. But, that flighty doe decided enough was enough and ran for cover taking the other doe and the reluctant buck with her. I can’t help thinking that the buck followed, not out of fear, but in the interest of keeping an eye on how two female companions.

Swifts landing

May 14, 2012

After at least ten weeks of permanent flight Swifts are inspecting possible nest sites in the roofs of Brampton cottages. As Fiona quietly weeded her garden below, I watched one such Swift execute a deeply curled spiralling approach which ended in a small up-tick as it folded its wings and grasped some little purchase against the tile on the eaves of Trinity Cottage. It must be something like trying to park a car in a garage after approaching at 100 miles per hour, after spending months on the motorway. It only feels like Summer as the groups of Swifts race around the houses, with their high pitched screaming which seems to be borne out of pure exhilaration.

May 8, 2012

The Cuckoo was a few days late this year, but the Cuckoo Flower or Lady’s Smock was there onetime along the Bure grazing marshes.

There is a distinct pattern of bubbles that mark the trail of a submerged Otter. They burst at the waters surface and mark the route of an agile mammal moving at some speed. This evenings were typical; swimming at what must have been no more than say a foot’s depth, where the River Mermaid joins the Bure, the line of bubbles was a like row of silver coins – each a few inches apart in a curving trail under the footbridge. The Otter kept submerged until the safety of the overhanging willow where it invisibly surfaced before diving to the sanctuary of the deeper waters of the Bure. We waited to see if would return, perhaps racked with the supposed curiosity of mammals of this type, but it had obviously seen enough of us and had retired out if sight.