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Early silence

November 9, 2011

A brief moment of silence this morning, broken only by the gentle contact calls of foraging flocks. Firstly a small flock of Redwings announce their presence by a their gentle sub whistling calls only to be echoed by Bullfinches. Now the time has come for wintering birds to make use of the bounteous supplies of seed or berry before times get tougher. As yet no frost of any significance has softened the sloes, so it is likely to be the hawthorn berries which are popular, for the Thrushes at least.
The Ash trees have dropped their leaves this week – thus joining the Poplars which are always the first to succumb. the Oaks are hanging on but they are looking isolated in a the
bare-branched ash lined railway.

An Arctic walk in Brampton

December 18, 2010

Temperatures  plunged to -14 C last night – fine snow fell which was more reminiscent of Arctic Circle snow than the normal wet stuff that we usually receive.  

It is still below -10 C as we take the dogs out. During the morning walk we  put up many Snipe as well as their larger cousins, Woodcock. The arrival or “fall” of Woodcock in Winter usually coincides with tougher weather conditions – presumably they are driven across the North sea from Scandinavia or Holland. A few remain in the UK for the Summer, but three or four flying out of the copse in Brampton is really only a Winter event. Snipe are here in dozens if not more and there peculiar croaky alarm call is the only sound over the Common.

The fox has left his familiar trail and diversions and the sign of a visit to the river for a quick drink are apparent.  We look for signs of Otter with no result. A Weasel has left a visible trail in the more rabbit areas of the railway line. Hungry Redwings and Bullfinches have abandoned their shy behaviour and now concentrate on their search for food. The apples which remain on a tree in the cutting are as hard as billiard balls – we pick a few and leave them on the ground in the hope that the Thrushes can get at them when they thaw.

Scandinavians are back

October 23, 2010

Winter visitors continue to arrive. This, the first week of October has seen the arrival of the Redwings – that small thrush which spends it’s summers in Scandinavia and it’s winters in the UK. 

At first they are extremely shy. Their insipid high pitched “sip” call and a retreating shadow is often all you see as you walk along the Bure Valley railway line. When they have gorged themselves on the rich berry harvest for a few days, they seem to relax and gain confidence and become less wary. 

Another elusive Winter visitor is the Golden Plover. Brampton is a temporary home to large flock in October and again in the Spring. 

I have always assumed that this is a Plover staging post whilst they on their way south and back again; always the same fields. The give away is the whistling tuneful call – they are known locally as the Whistling Plover. They fly at a reasonable height in small groups and call to one another as they go. They are still moving around when it is dark and this is often the first sign that one catches. My first of the Autumn was early on Sunday morning, a little after 6 a.m – a plaintive but tuneful note.