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Over the last five years or so Buzzards have been busily colonising North Norfolk. The hawks have bred in various local woods – copses with tall trees, preferably those mixed between conifer and broad leaved tree species – but this year they have moved into the parish. On this warm Spring morning we watched one lazily breast the treetops over Keeper’s Wood before settling on the tallest conifer. It ducked as three crows swooped and mobbed it. It then sat hunched as if waiting for the thermals to rise. We left it to it.

The word Buzzard is a satisfying one to say. I assume that is why it has stuck. As you might expect, it has a falconry connection. Apparently derogatory as derived from the almost untranslatable Old French word for “waster”, “carrion-eater” or something along those lines. The implication being that it was not a great falconer’s hawk, although in truth it was used to hunt rabbits although it apparently wouldn’t catch very many. I will look forward to the mewing calls, which I expect to drift across the valley on hot July days.

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The raised embankment of the old railway line is not the warmest of spots in early March. A walk along this route just after dawn is sharpened by chill southerly winds which remind you that winter is not long past. Plant growth along the narrow path verges proceeds in spite of the cold. Cleavers, which don’t seem to have slowed down at all over Winter. Red Dead Nettle is already partly flowering and the grasses are growing. But is is the Sweet Violet which grabs the chance and flowers in abundance – a white which one could almost miss at ground level. i resist the temptation to test its scent.

The song of new arrivals

March 23, 2014

 Until today the chorus has been delivered by the Blackbirds, Robins and Wrens. All of whom have hung about all Winter and have been defending their individual territories in song since February.  But this morning a Summer visitor arrived and added to the soundscape. Admittedly not a great song, its monotonous Chiff-Chaff call does not conjure up the rapturous enjoyment that results from hearing a Nightingale, but it is an early Spring song with a flavour of Summer mixed in. Each year their arrival seems to coincide with the emergence of the first fresh green Hawthorn leaves, the Wild Daffodils and Primroses. The Chiff Chaff is a greenish, relatively nondescript member of the Warbler family. Now we wait for the related Warblers, the Blackcaps and Garden Warblers, both of which are more melodious songsters but not so early to arrive.

Brampton Spring

March 9, 2014

Primroses glow on a fine Brampton Spring morning

Primroses glow on a fine Brampton Spring morning

Spring arrives

March 8, 2014

The arrival of Spring in Brampton was heralded by the emerging display in the church yard. The first to appear were the Snowdrops. These were following in a somewhat unseemly rush by the Aconites and the first Daffodils. In the railway cutting the last of a once much larger population of Primroses cling on to the lower slopes.  A few warm days this week and the Wild Cherries are all in blossom as the Snowdrop petals slowly senesce.

Native birds are making the most of the brief period before the Summer visitors arrive. At the old Stag-headed Oak at the top of the hill past our cottage, a Great Spotted Woodpecker drums on the highest resonant dead limbs. His rapid morse code answered by a rival on another old tree. Blue Tits are paired up and nestbuilding and a Collared Dove is sitting precariously but tight on a ramshackle nest of sticks in the garden Birch. The grass is growing.