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E60F5D14-1BB2-4593-8F31-3520C22344BE The sight of Roe Deer has become increasingly common in Brampton in recent years (see link to other posts within the Village blog), but they always feel like an encounter with a wilder, slightly separate world. Usually, the sighting it at some distance and commonly it is for a fleeting moment before the deer melt into the safety of woodland. However, the other evening the encounter was closer. It was all the more surprising because, as we walked along with the Whippets, conversation was in full flow – not the whispers and hand signals that so often have to accompany a deer stalk. The wind was in our favour, blowing from the deer to us – otherwise they would have sensed us, a hundred yards further back. But on this occasion it was an eye to eye meeting, as can be appreciated by the resultant photos.

 

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Brampton Autumn – the Roe

September 4, 2016

The deep repetitive bark of the Roe Buck echoes around the wood. A sure sign that the rutting season is in full swing as the buck, high on testosterone, marches in wide circles and calls to those that would hear.  A somewhat primeval sound and one that has filled the valley for millennia.

Owls on Maundy Thursday

April 4, 2015

On the evening of Maundy Thursday Oxnead was quiet. It was bright and slightly chilly Spring evening. A single Roedeer nibbled at growing reed tips on the Drying Ground. This area is part of the Common which was, at one time strung with lines for drying washing and now colonised by reeds, Flag Irises and willow. A little corner that had been ignored by the drainage contractors.

A few steps further and we watched a very white Barn Owl slowly survey the ditches as she quartered the ground. The river was reflective and slow flowing. Disturbed only by a territorial Mute Swan – perhaps defending a hidden nest nearby. A second hunting Barn Owl, this time a dusky fawn colouration, watched us as we passed from a fence-post perch. 

There is a small footbridge over the little River Mermaid where is joins the Bure. It is a good place to stop and to appreciate the silence of the Bure and the grazing marshes. As we watched some duck winnowed in and a solitary Snipe called as it purposefully made its way somewhere or other. Then the pace changed. As if rowing through the air, a Short Eared Owl appeared. A faster and more effortless flight than that of Barn Owl. Its long wings alternately fixed in a short  glide, then swimming through the air, as is flew in wide arcs over the marsh. Flying at around six feet off the ground and occasionally braking, twisting and pouncing in a shallow cork screw when something caught its eye. As it passed us we caught a glimpse of those intent yellowy-orange eyes set in a flat facial disc. It was aware of our presence but carried on hunting. Presumably refuelling en route to the moor or tundra breeding ground.

We returned home exhilarated by the 

Two hours before sunrise and an insistent and regular barking call echoed around the village. I gradually tuned in, at first subconsciously and then awake. My first thought was that a fox was marking its’ territory. But it was only late Summer and the fox generally calls during those crisp and frosty Winter nights.   Besides, this call lacked the scream note that is characteristic of the vixen’s call. This was had a more guttural note. Whatever it is was initially progressing west along the old railway line, the call getting more distant, until at some point it turned and covered the same ground again. It dawned on me that it could only be a deer. Probably one of the Roebucks from Keeper’s Wood. The combine harvester had just cut the wheat surrounding the wood and the deer horizons had extended. It is the rutting season and this buck was spreading his message and clearly announcing his presence. With this thought I went back to sleep.  

The weather softens after a fortnight of snow and frosts.But the hard spell that we have just experienced served to expose the variety of wildlife within the parish. Hunger and the serious business of courtship pushed dog fox and vixen into the daylight. The urban fox has become a common sight in Norwich, but the country fox is a a much more wary creature altogether. Their travels and territories are defined by river and railway line and the thaw releases the strong scent in many places. A sharp frosty starlit night is punctuated by their barks and screams as boundaries are set.

Elsewhere, Jenny reports whole families of hunting otters in the gloomy late afternoon light. On the arable fields the destructive power of foraging Roe Deer show up as snowy excavations. Teal spring out from out from under the reed fringed bank of the Bure and Grey Geese graze on the whatever passes for exposed vegetation on the Common. In the garden flocks of finches cluster in a frenzy of shuttle visits around the feeders. The wintering Little Egret manage to contrast in shades of white with the decaying snow.

A short burst of sunshine and the presence of Celandines, Snowdrops and the early shoots of Daffodils in the churchyard promise the approach of Spring. The colour green seems to suddenly return from the overnight thaw.

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.

Late Spring deer

May 14, 2012

One of the two does is more flighty than the other. It is the first to make for the security of Keeper’s Wood as we approach. We, it should be said, are at some eighty yards distance, penned into the old railway track behind a row of Ash trees. The gentle south easterly breeze aided our approach. It is often difficult to get closer with the wind behind you which carries your scent to the deer very quickly, allowing them to gentle sidle closer to cover. This evening, we had the advantage. The Roebuck, who looks in fine condition, merely looked across at us. But, that flighty doe decided enough was enough and ran for cover taking the other doe and the reluctant buck with her. I can’t help thinking that the buck followed, not out of fear, but in the interest of keeping an eye on how two female companions.