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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.

July morning

July 7, 2012

 An idyllic early July morning. As we walk out with the dogs along the old railway line, we seem to have the world to ourselves – or almost. Ahead, a Barn Owl has its usual spat with a Sparrowhawk – they briefly lock talons again before the hawk shoots off. Both predators are working hard to support growing offspring. The Sparrowhawk, in particular, seems to be hunting constantly, his presence given away by the twitter of mobbing Swallows. The Swallows’ call instantly draws attention of prey species and us – the birdsong goes quiet until the perceived danger has passed. Near Keeper’s Wood a single Roe doe keeps a close eye on us from 80 yards distance and then slips seemingly unconcerned, back into the trees. The sun is hot but a welcome wind keeps temperatures down.

We hear news of Golden Orioles, but our wish for a sighting is not answered. This brightly coloured continental birds, somewhat resembling large thrushes in size, are known to breed in the UK and we hope that their presence in the area is a good sign. Orioles are supposed to be especially fund of the canopy provided by Poplar trees, so they should feel at home here.

Barking sounds emanate from the woods. The Roe Deer rut is in full swing or so it seems. Yesterday evening their enthusiastic, somewhat primeval barks echoed along the village street as midsummer darkness descended.

Roe into November

November 1, 2011

As November commences the Roe Deer have regrouped. the Brampton group comprises of the young buck, now in his second year, the doe and the twin fauns. The doe is the most confident and the least flighty, the buck and the fauns compete to be the first to run off if they feel that they are being threatened.

Each individual’s pelage or coat has lost its rich red of the summer and has settled into the dark grey brown of the approaching winter. The buck retains his antlers now whitened and worn, for the time being at least, although it is likely that he will shed these later this month.

Deer in September

September 1, 2011

The twins look perfectly matched. I have not yet established whether they are both female fauns and one of each. All that can be said is that they look similar enough to convince me that the Roe doe, which appears with them so often near Keeper’s Wood, was the mother of both and was not acting as  nursemaid to a crèche.

The flush of grass in late august and into this month has kept them out in the open – particularly in the early morning and into dusk.  They look healthy and are clearly growing rapidly. The whole group is stacking on condition for the coming winter whilst the grass has some nutritive value.

The bucks are keeping their distance, from the doe and from each other. But they are within sight of each other in a loose knit group. The wound which was so apparent on the left hind quarter of the older buck has healed leaving the ghost of a scar – or I at least imagine that the hair has grown back leaving a sign of his earlier battle.

Wednesday

August 10, 2011

One of those mornings in Brampton. Two sightings of birds which were distinctly out of place. The unmistakeable, whirring shape and arrow like flight of a Kingfisher. It caught me out somewhat – we were walking along the railway line and at least 400 yards away from the river as the bird flew towards Dudwick. A flash of turquoise blue confirmed it’s identity.

A little further round and the scything wings of the Hobby shot between the Church and Brampton Hall. Travelling at speed at roof height – as when I last saw one in the village back in June – this small falcon almost seems to leave an electrical charge in the air in its wake. Such speed leaves you wondering whether you had actually seen it or not.

Then, as we sat over a cup of coffee upon our return, there was a rush of wings and a cloud of feathers in the garden as a female Sparrowhawk struck a Collared Dove. Both disappeared towards Street Farm at such speed that we were unable to see how this ended.

Later on, the Roe Doe accompanied by two fauns grazed quietly on the margins of the wheat field. All watched us carefully from what they felt to be a safe distance.

Deer in July

July 24, 2011

The Roe Deer have been going through an elusive period. This is in doubt partly due to the expected secrecy associated with the birth of new fauns, but it may also be due to the relatively poor feed value of the grass on the more open fallow land during July. The other morning a single doe was to be seen in the middle of the beet field, well away from Keeper’s Wood, but this has been the sole sighting which I have had for some time. No sign of a faun on this occasion.