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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.

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Brampton: Evening falls

July 24, 2018

At the end of a hot July day,  we sit outside with glasses in hand. To sit and watch the night fall is a simple pleasure, but one of which we never tire. 

A Barn Owl which skims the roof and garden trees, is intent on hunting – its call breaks the falling silence. Bats appear. Pipistrelles and, we assume, Long-Eared Bats. Each following a circuit of widening spirals. An ultrasound bat-detector helps us follow their course – their call speeding up as they home-in on an insect.

The moon, not yet full but waxing and large in the southern sky, sails in solitary splendour over the ash trees which edge the old rail line. Minute by minute stars start to appear. We check their names and constellations. Vega seems to be the first, balanced at the head of Lyra. Then all of sudden, many more follow. Just before ten o’clock a bright spot arcing past the Moon turns out to be the International Space Station on it’s first visible pass of the night.  

Our attention turns to the satellites, a man-made intrusion in to the natural view, but wonderful for all of that. Their names create their own poetry – SEASAT, ERBS, Integral, Genesis II.

On a more earthly theme, toads shuffle around the flower pots.

Broken silences

February 26, 2011

At a certain point the balance tips. Early this morning, in spite of the dark and the persistent drizzly rain, a Song Thrush was singing in full voice. It is as if the bird’s determination to express itself would overcome any obstacle even the absence of light itself. To me this seems to show that that the territorial urge has become so strong that nothing will discourage it.

Last night, as I was deep in a book, the dark and silence was broken by the unmistakeable whistling hum which comes from the wings of a Mute Swan in flight.  Presumably disorientated by the lack of visibility, I can only hope that it found its way back to the river. Wildfowl do fly by night but in my experience this usually occurs on moonlit nights and not on nights of poor visibility such as last night. Perhaps this one was disturbed from it’s roost by a fox.