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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.  

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This weekend the skies are emptier. The Swifts which, for the last four months have blazed around the cottage roofs, have headed south. Or so I assume. In the past, after seeming to have left they have reappeared for a final joyful circuit. Not this year. Although I expect to see some more birds as they pass through from more northerly summers.

In their place flocks of Jackdaws and Rooks roll around the country gleaning what they can from the newly harvested fields. Jackdaws always seem to me to be positive and high-spirited in their approach to life. Their calls ricochet around the village as they set of in the morning and later, once again as they return to roost.

It was their call that announced their arrival. Drifting down on the breeze. The heat of the day had built all morning and the up-draughts were enough to carry a family of four Buzzards which soared in lazy spirals over the village. They gradually drifted westwards, circles seeming to link and then part as each bird adopted its thermal. They occasionally called as the gentle breeze carried them towards Aylsham and beyond.

A June Otter

June 16, 2013

Otters have a habit of putting in an appearance when you least expect them. It may be their natural inquisitiveness. This morning’s Otter was a case in point. All four of us were walking upstream on the Common. As usual there were several conversations going on at once, and whilst our attention was diverted, the Otter surfaced for a few seconds before submerging and leaving a trail of bubbles as it disappeared. But that few seconds was enough. We had been Otter-less, or at least lacking I’m sightings, for a few months. Perhaps they were not in the area or maybe they were keeping a low profile whilst rearing young. Now they were back. All we need to do is to not expect to see them, not worry about how much noise we make and then we should see them again.

Young Greys

June 15, 2013

The arrival of young Grey Squirrels in the garden has been a recent highlight for the whippets. The young Greys are vandals of the first order. Only the anti-squirrel bird feeder has survived their ingenious robbery. But they are thorough and they cannot resist picking up the last spilled kernel from the ground. This is what the whippets wait for. A marauding dash through garden furniture and other obstacles to the foot of the tree. The squirrels escape, but they always climb to such a height that seems to infer that dogs might be able to climb trees one day.

June has proved to be such a changeable month. There is no pattern in the weather. Nothing is settled. This is reflected in the behaviour of birds. On Monday morning, for example, the fine early morning was heralded by the constant call of the Cuckoo. And not from just one direction – the calls seemed to be from Oxnead at one minute, from the Town field the following and from Burgh the next. At the time is sounded like a last hurrah and since then it’s calls have been absent or at the very most sporadic. My suspicion is that the job is done and the Cuckoo must now concentrate on building up energy again for the long trip south. This is not so far away.