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The marsh in midwinter

December 29, 2014

Midwinter on the marsh. This morning’s sharp frost, a low sun and the chill threat of showers sweeping in from the north, combine to colour and etch the landscape. A section of a rainbow briefly touches the Mill Marsh as a brief squall washes in. A Kestrel is mobbed by a Crow and I hear the high pitched call of an unseen Kingfisher. The river runs high in its banks and the pool below the sluice does not look at all inviting. The dogs and I are thankful for the frost which has made out progress much easier over the muddy well-used river path.

By the time we reach the Common, the sun has raised the air temperature as long as we keep out of the wind. Moles have pockmarked the drier sections of river bank, but the soke dykes are full and the drains are running. Just below the horizon sun picks out the colours of cottages.

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So that’s it then. The end of August and the Brampton Fete of 2014 has brought Summer to a close. A day of traditional games, tombola, tea and cake, hot dogs, welly wanging – all as it should be in the village. Some things are timeless and the village fete is certainly one. Almost a tribal gathering with the opportunity to renew acquaintances and to relax whilst the weather thankfully favoured us.

It takes effort from many people to set it all up. We must thank Jill and Andrew, who so kindly agreed to their grounds being taken over for a day, as well as extending gratitude to all the marquee erectors, sign painters, plant growers, tea and cake makers, barbecuers, stall providers, face painters, beer sellers, washer-uppers, grass mowers, welly wangers, removal men, raffle sellers and ticket folders and all of those who attended the event for making the Fete

Now we start planning for next years event – bso please put 29th August 2015 in your diaries

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Brampton asylum

June 23, 2014

In the first place it was Andrew’s desire to actually see and not just hear a Cuckoo that made me keep my eyes peeled. The occasion was the Village Barbecue – a gathering of neighbours, which this year was to be held on Geoff and Helen’s ground. Their garden has an enviable location, lying snugly along the western edge of the grazing marshes known as Brampton Common. The Common itself is a wildlife highway. The focus of movement is the route of the clear, slow flow of the River Bure. It seems that much wildlife migration, whether local or international, follows this line.

It was across the Common or at least on electricity cables which cross it, that the Cuckoos gathered. Not just one Cuckoo but, as our eyes adjusted and binoculars were gathered an as we watched four Cuckoos grouped on the cables. Each would call from time to time. Almost in turn they swooped down intermittently in what must have been the pursuit of some hatching insect. Some food item had drawn their attention and collected them together.

I attempted to photograph the event with the camera which I had to hand. Grainy images were all I could muster. Some provided a recognisable silhouette, others merely proved that “bird sits on wire”.
One of the Gang of Four.
what we saw was a rare event and certainly as far as I am concerned, unseen before now. My original theory that it was a pre-migration gathering (although a little too early in the year) has since been disproven as Cuckoos have continued to call locally all the way through to the end of June.

it was solely down to that helpful combination of gatherings, a food source and many pairs of eyes. That goes for those at the barbecue and those birds on a wire.

The morning of 1st day of June and Brampton is at its verdant best. Last week, a period of showers and occasional sun drew out out the first crop of Mayflies, But now a blue cloudless sky only serves to highlight the rich green of the oak and ash trees which border the old railway line, where Speckled Wood butterflies bask on leafy branches. On the Town Field the wheat is in ear and nearby the allotment gardens are near fully planted. The growing Sunflowers are leaning towards a warming morning sun.

In the garden the air resounds with the feeding calls of newly fledged Blackbirds and Blue Tits. In order to sustain a nest full of hungry young the Barn Owl hunts constantly over the grazing marshes. The meadows carry a golden cloudy glow with the flowers of thousands of buttercups. The lanes and verges are brim full of Cow Parsley and Red Campion.

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.

A warm Sunday morning in Spring and we are surrounded by Swallows. Walking through the Long Meadow amongst grazing horses, the Swallows swoop and hawk for insects around us. Skimming along just above ground level, their blue-black backs looking polished and glistening in the early sunshine. Their beaks close with an audible snap as they scoop insects. We stand and watch, almost mesmerised.