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One advantage of dog walking at dusk come from the heightened senses of the dogs themselves. This evening as we strolled westwards along the railway line, the slight breeze blew into our faces. Ideal conditions for a close encounter with deer or other mammals – at least before they see you. This evening the dogs pressed forward into their collars, obviously receiving a juicy scent. We were very clearly following something interesting although never is sight, whatever it was kept ahead of us and maintained a steady pace. Then, at the Blackthorn clump the dogs followed the scent into the hedge. We carried on. Climbing up the steps and glancing over the plough, a russet brown shape made its way back along the margin. Then it turned back to the hedge and onto the railway line again. The last thing to disappear being the unmistakable shape of a fox’s brush like tail.

Water bats

September 25, 2011

Bat detecting is addictive. A warmish evening spent at Oxnead Bridge reveals the usual Pipistrelles but it is the river bat that we went to find. These bats, more properly known at the Daubenton’s Bat, hunt low over the surface of the river, sometimes seeming to touch the surface or scoop it’s prey. A whirring flight at a constant height low over the river surface is characteristic – this evening the run was between the Bridge and the next corner upstream. It was active just after dusk and the best view was from the base of the bridge on the Brampton side. We walked home in the gathering dark and reluctantly left the sounds (and the ravenous midges) behind us.

Cuckoo

May 2, 2011

In the end it was on a breezy, clear morning of the 1st May when the Cuckoo announced its presence. The call which drifted in and out on the breeze was persistent and seemed to come from higher up the valley – perhaps from Tuttington

In spite of reports from others and letters of announcement in the newspaper, this was the first definite local Cuckoo which I have heard. Earlier incarnations seem to have been just passing through. Perhaps the east winds have not favoured the Cuckoo in its normal migration route making it a little late.

Caution Mermaid crossing

February 24, 2011

After some dull February days it came as a relief this morning to feel that Spring is really happening. The intensity of bird song has increased – the Skylarks of the Town field were in full song and a bolshie Yellowhammer was re-establishing his ground on the railway line. The full throated calls of the Song Thrush, with it’s characteristic regular five repeats, rang out over the Common. There was even a sense that the sun may appear.
Down at the Mermaid, river bank repairs are continuing. The sleeper wall which holds the river in place as it passes under the railway line has finally had to be replaced. There is some doubt as to how long the originals had been in place- the uprights had been pointed by hand and hammered in. I suppose it is possible that these could have been put in by the Victorians during the construction of the railway, but it would be interesting if anybody knows? It was with some relief that I learnt that the timbers which form the narrow crossing over this section are going back on.