The Island was full of Snipe. As we walked along the footpath they spring from the river margin singly and in groups, or “Wisps” as they are known – such a descriptive collective noun; covering both their alarm call and their diminutive and rapidly scattering disappearance. Yesterday’s northerly breeze has calmed and it was now so Spring-like. A promise of warmer weather in the week ahead.

David reports of a flock of chattering birds in the river Alders – from their size, noise and description we wonder if they were Waxwings pausing briefly on their way north.

a view in Winter

February 5, 2012

Wigeon arrive on the marsh as the village slumbers in it’s blanket of snow. A small flock of these fast-flying duck circle us as we scan the riverside snow for footprints. The meandering trail of a morning fox provided evidence of his thoughts – out for an unsuspecting Moorhen or duck – the trail followed any little clue to and fro to the water’s edge. Smaller creatures, mostly voles, scurried their tubby ways from sedge to bolthole. Swans which looked so white under normal conditions reveal themselves to be a rich cream against the backdrop of snow covered marshes. Snipe are here in numbers; they spring away and follow crazy zig-zag flight patterns emitting their wispy call. As we open the Church for Sunday a Woodcock flies rapidly at head-height through the churchyard, full of bombast and intent.


January 22, 2012

A fine frosty morning, in fact the first real frost of this year so far; grasses on the Common carrying a delicate filigree of ice. Almost too fine and delicate to consider walking on. The Bure flows slowly through the beds of reed and cress, calm and unsullied by any waterfowl. The occasional Snipe wisps org from the margins with its strange stuttering alarm call, it’s delicate feather pattern seems crisp and etched in the clear cold light. The scent of a prowling fox hangs by the river.

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.