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Brampton Winter – flocks

January 27, 2019

The frosts of mid to late January changed the habits of the parish wildlife.  The most marked change being the flocking of the birds. The Woodpigeons gather into gangs, but most notiecable of all are the large flocks of finches. The finch flocks – consisting mainly of Chaffinchs, Greenfinches, Bramblings, Goldfinches and Linnets – gravitate to the fields planted for this very purpose at the south end of the village. The farm’s conservation scheme, being ‘Wild Bird Cover’ consists of a special mix of seed-bearing plants, and it is working. On a fine clear Saturday morning I counted 60 in one flock perched atop the hedgerow trees whilst another, half as big, wheeled round above.   A good example of successful farm-based conservation.

Frosty clear nights echo with the calls of courting foxes. One Erving this week a dog fox called as it ran done the village street making all the dogs jump from their slumber.

A village Vixen

January 3, 2014

January is the time for foxes to establish their territories. Most nights, especially those cold starlit nights, a vixen’s sharp regular calls cut through the air from the old railway line. This particular night the call was much closer. I assume that it may be rich pickings in the immediate post Christmas period – perhaps the remains of a turkey carcass or similar – which draw gem in. This is when I am pleased that we have wheelie bins rather than the old black plastic bags. As I lay in bed, I try and remember whether I have shut the hens in their house and having satisfied myself that this was done, drift back off to sleep.

Two Sundays before Christmas. Food in the hedgerows is in short supply. I hear news that a hungry fox has cleared out a hen house at Spratt’s Green. It is certainly at this point in time that the thrushes turn to the Hawthorn berries. Until now they have studiously avoided the bitter red pippy berry, but as we walk along the railway line we follow a cloud of Fieldfares and other thrushes as they work the hedge. They chatter and chortle as we arrive. Then move away as a flock, circle in our wake and settle to their task. Goldfinches and Linnets concentrate upon whatever they can glean along the margins.   Survival has become the key as the period of plenty has ended.

Vixen calling

December 3, 2013

Woken at 2 in the morning; the shrill cries of a vixen echoed around the valley. She made her way at some speed along the railway line, calling regularly until the distance and wind swallowed the noise.