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Love song of Muntjac

May 5, 2014

Muntjac Deer are a regular sight on the Common. This does cause some slight anxiety among tots the allotment gardeners. A serious amount of damage to your spring veg is a real possibility. But so far so good. Whilst wandering back from the Church with the dogs this evening there was a real racket emanating from the scrub land between Low Farm and the Common. The barks were almost fox-like, but to a Muntjac they must be their version of love duets. So, more deer on the way, no doubt.

A warm Sunday morning in Spring and we are surrounded by Swallows. Walking through the Long Meadow amongst grazing horses, the Swallows swoop and hawk for insects around us. Skimming along just above ground level, their blue-black backs looking polished and glistening in the early sunshine. Their beaks close with an audible snap as they scoop insects. We stand and watch, almost mesmerised.

Cuckoo arrives then silence ensues for a few days. It seems to happen every year. We patiently wait for the first announcement of arrival within the village. This year it was Sue’s turn; a lunchtime stint in the allotment on 21st April was rewarded with the first calls of the newly arrived Cuckoo. Then all goes quiet, whilst we wonder if “our” Cuckoo was just passing through. Then the calls start again as the Brampton Cuckoo calls her way from Burgh, along the river Oxnead and back again. The same trees are favoured as the are very year – the Ash on the grazing meadows, the Poplars near Oxnead Bridge and the old Oak on the Brampton hill. Sumer is icumen in.

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The raised embankment of the old railway line is not the warmest of spots in early March. A walk along this route just after dawn is sharpened by chill southerly winds which remind you that winter is not long past. Plant growth along the narrow path verges proceeds in spite of the cold. Cleavers, which don’t seem to have slowed down at all over Winter. Red Dead Nettle is already partly flowering and the grasses are growing. But is is the Sweet Violet which grabs the chance and flowers in abundance – a white which one could almost miss at ground level. i resist the temptation to test its scent.

The song of new arrivals

March 23, 2014

 Until today the chorus has been delivered by the Blackbirds, Robins and Wrens. All of whom have hung about all Winter and have been defending their individual territories in song since February.  But this morning a Summer visitor arrived and added to the soundscape. Admittedly not a great song, its monotonous Chiff-Chaff call does not conjure up the rapturous enjoyment that results from hearing a Nightingale, but it is an early Spring song with a flavour of Summer mixed in. Each year their arrival seems to coincide with the emergence of the first fresh green Hawthorn leaves, the Wild Daffodils and Primroses. The Chiff Chaff is a greenish, relatively nondescript member of the Warbler family. Now we wait for the related Warblers, the Blackcaps and Garden Warblers, both of which are more melodious songsters but not so early to arrive.

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.