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E60F5D14-1BB2-4593-8F31-3520C22344BE The sight of Roe Deer has become increasingly common in Brampton in recent years (see link to other posts within the Village blog), but they always feel like an encounter with a wilder, slightly separate world. Usually, the sighting it at some distance and commonly it is for a fleeting moment before the deer melt into the safety of woodland. However, the other evening the encounter was closer. It was all the more surprising because, as we walked along with the Whippets, conversation was in full flow – not the whispers and hand signals that so often have to accompany a deer stalk. The wind was in our favour, blowing from the deer to us – otherwise they would have sensed us, a hundred yards further back. But on this occasion it was an eye to eye meeting, as can be appreciated by the resultant photos.

 

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Brampton Autumn – the Roe

September 4, 2016

The deep repetitive bark of the Roe Buck echoes around the wood. A sure sign that the rutting season is in full swing as the buck, high on testosterone, marches in wide circles and calls to those that would hear.  A somewhat primeval sound and one that has filled the valley for millennia.

Owls on Maundy Thursday

April 4, 2015

On the evening of Maundy Thursday Oxnead was quiet. It was bright and slightly chilly Spring evening. A single Roedeer nibbled at growing reed tips on the Drying Ground. This area is part of the Common which was, at one time strung with lines for drying washing and now colonised by reeds, Flag Irises and willow. A little corner that had been ignored by the drainage contractors.

A few steps further and we watched a very white Barn Owl slowly survey the ditches as she quartered the ground. The river was reflective and slow flowing. Disturbed only by a territorial Mute Swan – perhaps defending a hidden nest nearby. A second hunting Barn Owl, this time a dusky fawn colouration, watched us as we passed from a fence-post perch. 

There is a small footbridge over the little River Mermaid where is joins the Bure. It is a good place to stop and to appreciate the silence of the Bure and the grazing marshes. As we watched some duck winnowed in and a solitary Snipe called as it purposefully made its way somewhere or other. Then the pace changed. As if rowing through the air, a Short Eared Owl appeared. A faster and more effortless flight than that of Barn Owl. Its long wings alternately fixed in a short  glide, then swimming through the air, as is flew in wide arcs over the marsh. Flying at around six feet off the ground and occasionally braking, twisting and pouncing in a shallow cork screw when something caught its eye. As it passed us we caught a glimpse of those intent yellowy-orange eyes set in a flat facial disc. It was aware of our presence but carried on hunting. Presumably refuelling en route to the moor or tundra breeding ground.

We returned home exhilarated by the 

Love song of Muntjac

May 5, 2014

Muntjac Deer are a regular sight on the Common. This does cause some slight anxiety among tots the allotment gardeners. A serious amount of damage to your spring veg is a real possibility. But so far so good. Whilst wandering back from the Church with the dogs this evening there was a real racket emanating from the scrub land between Low Farm and the Common. The barks were almost fox-like, but to a Muntjac they must be their version of love duets. So, more deer on the way, no doubt.

I count eighty eight House Martins and Swallows on the telephone lines near the Common. The gathering continues until, at some hidden signal, they will depart and leave us and take the summer with them. When that moment actually arrives is hard to spot, but by Sunday evening they have dispersed. The village really is on the cusp of the seasons this week. The convergence of the river, its valley, rail lines and roads seeming to combine to create a meeting place for the moving migrants. That evening we stumble across two Fallow Deer, not the usual Roe or Muntjac, both of whom were moving with intent – their own small scale migration in search of new territory.

The next morning the unmistakeable call of the Golden Plover drifts down as the first flock arrives at their favourite stopping off point on the way south from their tundra breeding grounds. As always they centre themselves on the same arable fields which must have become ingrained as the traditional rest on their long journey south. We hope to hear them during their night time flights as the moon becomes full late in September.

The weather softens after a fortnight of snow and frosts.But the hard spell that we have just experienced served to expose the variety of wildlife within the parish. Hunger and the serious business of courtship pushed dog fox and vixen into the daylight. The urban fox has become a common sight in Norwich, but the country fox is a a much more wary creature altogether. Their travels and territories are defined by river and railway line and the thaw releases the strong scent in many places. A sharp frosty starlit night is punctuated by their barks and screams as boundaries are set.

Elsewhere, Jenny reports whole families of hunting otters in the gloomy late afternoon light. On the arable fields the destructive power of foraging Roe Deer show up as snowy excavations. Teal spring out from out from under the reed fringed bank of the Bure and Grey Geese graze on the whatever passes for exposed vegetation on the Common. In the garden flocks of finches cluster in a frenzy of shuttle visits around the feeders. The wintering Little Egret manage to contrast in shades of white with the decaying snow.

A short burst of sunshine and the presence of Celandines, Snowdrops and the early shoots of Daffodils in the churchyard promise the approach of Spring. The colour green seems to suddenly return from the overnight thaw.

In mid January I am looking for change. Having ushered the new year in, I always feel it is time to look for those hints that Spring is not so far away. Last weekend the majestic wind blown song from an Oxnead Mistle Thrush sufficed.

Yesterday, the resonant drumming of a Great Spotted Woodpecker on a Brampton Hall Oak echoed along the Bure. It is a sound that I always connect with the emergence of Daffodils and the stirring of Primroses. Indeed, in the churchyard, the first leaves of some of the wild stock daffodils are inching above the sward. Even in that state they manage to lift away that winter feeling. As I walk out of the copse a Muntjac Deer loses it’s nerve and springs out of the thicket ahead of me. The beehive is hidden in a small glade, quite spartan now and surrounded by the skeletal form of young trees.

I nervously take a look at the beehives. Nervously, because they had a tough year in 2012 and there must always be question marks over the quality and quantity of their food reserves. I am encouraged that the clusters of each the colonies seem to be making the right noise as I tidy up around the hives. But there is a long way to go yet and the losses are often later in the winter or into the early spring, so we have sugar solution ready in reserve for that point in time.