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Brampton: arrival of Spring

February 25, 2018

The churchyard is filling with Snowdrops. Aconites and a few Daffodils. All flowering under a bright, clear sky. The easterly breeze reminds me that we have probably not seen the last of Winter, but Spring cannot be far off.

On a stag-headed Oak at Brampton Hall a male Great Spotted Woodpecker drums against a hollow branch, each salvo declaring his territorial rights in preparation for the breeding season. Further south, perched high on a favourite Railway embankment Ash tree, a Song Thrush is singing for much of the day. Each short phrase repeated four or five times carries through the cold air. Although in the garden a Scandinavian Brambling forages amongst the Chaffinches to build up reserves for the northern Spring. At night Muntjac Deer wander, hardly noticed, around the village houses and gardens.

Spring arrives

March 8, 2014

The arrival of Spring in Brampton was heralded by the emerging display in the church yard. The first to appear were the Snowdrops. These were following in a somewhat unseemly rush by the Aconites and the first Daffodils. In the railway cutting the last of a once much larger population of Primroses cling on to the lower slopes.  A few warm days this week and the Wild Cherries are all in blossom as the Snowdrop petals slowly senesce.

Native birds are making the most of the brief period before the Summer visitors arrive. At the old Stag-headed Oak at the top of the hill past our cottage, a Great Spotted Woodpecker drums on the highest resonant dead limbs. His rapid morse code answered by a rival on another old tree. Blue Tits are paired up and nestbuilding and a Collared Dove is sitting precariously but tight on a ramshackle nest of sticks in the garden Birch. The grass is growing.

A crystal clear starlit night gives way to the morning garden etched by frost. The air feels fresh and welcoming as we walk out with the dogs. A Woodpecker’s rhythmic drumming resonates from the old oak at the top of the hill. This creates the feeling of anticipation – Spring may be some way off, but it is expected. Territories have to be established, defended and trumpeted. At this time of the year there is little noise to compete with the intermittent rattle that Woodpeckers can generate – at times there appears to be an echo, another bird drums it’s answer. The two birds swap percussion until one flies off in that curious bounding way to another tree, another territory.

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.