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Six cygnets are being gently shepherded by their parents above the Mill Reach at Burgh. This may be a sign that the Otters are not in residence at the moment – it is possible that they have a liking for eggs, judging by last year’s low cygnet success rate. This morning the Swan family formed an ungainly parade as the followed the Mermaid downstream to the relative sanctuary of the flight pond.

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Cuckoo weather

May 20, 2013

The Bure was a near-perfect mirror as we crossed the Common. A cuckoo called from the Church Wood at Oxnead and, as we paused, the calls got closer. Then over the top of the slope of Limekiln Farm two Cuckoos appeared. Both unaware of our presence they settled on the top of the Island Willow. As they passed one uttered that curious contact call – something of a cross between a chuckle and a shake of dice – whilst the other continued the signature call. This was Cuckoo courtship.

All this activity reminded me of that Thomas Hardy line, “this is the weather the Cuckoo likes”, for it was. A finer blue sky had not appeared until today and to add to the poem’s picture the Chestnut near the Cradle Bridge was fully in flower.

Swifts return

May 12, 2013

Every year I eagerly await the arrival of Swifts. Brampton is home to a declining number, presumably due to the loss of nest sites as buildings are being re-roofed and closed off. This morning two pairs screamed their way around the roof tops of the village. Reports of their arrival elsewhere in Norfolk was causing a degree of anxiety about  a Brampton no-show. But they have got here. It is likely that the showery weather has pushed the insects down to lower levels, thus bringing the Swifts with them.  As the poet Ted Hughes put it, the Swifts circle madly “Racing their discords, screaming as if speed-burned..” As if to announce their ownership of the air space around the eves.