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Not quite a Nightingale. This song was full throated, but without the seemingly endless variety of its relation; this was the song of the Blackcap. This morning we had the chance to stop and watch for a few minutes. The male was perched in full view on a Hawthorn. They usually sing from a perch with a bit more cover, throwing their strong voices and using the natural echoing acoustic of the scrub. But this morning he had adopted an more exposed perch. From where we stood some 10 yards away, the full throated effort and its resultant volume was apparent. Each verse seemingly ending with the same short phrase tooey-tooey-tooey-tooo, then a pause, before embarking on another convoluted tune. Oblivious to us he continued until we slowly walked on at which point he briefly retired deeper into the scrub, before resuming at our passing.

So that’s it then. The end of August and the Brampton Fete of 2014 has brought Summer to a close. A day of traditional games, tombola, tea and cake, hot dogs, welly wanging – all as it should be in the village. Some things are timeless and the village fete is certainly one. Almost a tribal gathering with the opportunity to renew acquaintances and to relax whilst the weather thankfully favoured us.

It takes effort from many people to set it all up. We must thank Jill and Andrew, who so kindly agreed to their grounds being taken over for a day, as well as extending gratitude to all the marquee erectors, sign painters, plant growers, tea and cake makers, barbecuers, stall providers, face painters, beer sellers, washer-uppers, grass mowers, welly wangers, removal men, raffle sellers and ticket folders and all of those who attended the event for making the Fete

Now we start planning for next years event – bso please put 29th August 2015 in your diaries

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Brampton asylum

June 23, 2014

In the first place it was Andrew’s desire to actually see and not just hear a Cuckoo that made me keep my eyes peeled. The occasion was the Village Barbecue – a gathering of neighbours, which this year was to be held on Geoff and Helen’s ground. Their garden has an enviable location, lying snugly along the western edge of the grazing marshes known as Brampton Common. The Common itself is a wildlife highway. The focus of movement is the route of the clear, slow flow of the River Bure. It seems that much wildlife migration, whether local or international, follows this line.

It was across the Common or at least on electricity cables which cross it, that the Cuckoos gathered. Not just one Cuckoo but, as our eyes adjusted and binoculars were gathered an as we watched four Cuckoos grouped on the cables. Each would call from time to time. Almost in turn they swooped down intermittently in what must have been the pursuit of some hatching insect. Some food item had drawn their attention and collected them together.

I attempted to photograph the event with the camera which I had to hand. Grainy images were all I could muster. Some provided a recognisable silhouette, others merely proved that “bird sits on wire”.
One of the Gang of Four.
what we saw was a rare event and certainly as far as I am concerned, unseen before now. My original theory that it was a pre-migration gathering (although a little too early in the year) has since been disproven as Cuckoos have continued to call locally all the way through to the end of June.

it was solely down to that helpful combination of gatherings, a food source and many pairs of eyes. That goes for those at the barbecue and those birds on a wire.

The morning of 1st day of June and Brampton is at its verdant best. Last week, a period of showers and occasional sun drew out out the first crop of Mayflies, But now a blue cloudless sky only serves to highlight the rich green of the oak and ash trees which border the old railway line, where Speckled Wood butterflies bask on leafy branches. On the Town Field the wheat is in ear and nearby the allotment gardens are near fully planted. The growing Sunflowers are leaning towards a warming morning sun.

In the garden the air resounds with the feeding calls of newly fledged Blackbirds and Blue Tits. In order to sustain a nest full of hungry young the Barn Owl hunts constantly over the grazing marshes. The meadows carry a golden cloudy glow with the flowers of thousands of buttercups. The lanes and verges are brim full of Cow Parsley and Red Campion.

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.

Swifts in the dog days

July 16, 2013

As the village basks in the dog days of Summer, the grass of the Common takes on a tawny hue. The Swifts wheel and swoop around the cottage roofs. They gather in flocks at height and then descend in pairs or small groups, shattering the air with their screaming calls. There is a rushing sound of air as they brake and turn in front of their nest sites in the cottage roofs. We try to count them in the warm evenings but their speed and sudden changes in direction defy us.

For me Summer of 2012 ended at 8.45 on 2nd September. The swallows were gathering in groups around the Hall barns. But, further down Church Lane a single Swallow circled the doctor’s house uttering an urgent hawk-alarm call. Looking up we spotted the cause of it’s concern, a falcon was in the vicinity and was climbing the thermal-free air. The effort was obvious; with wing beats which reminded my of a trapped butterfly against a window pane, the falcon worked to gain height in a wide upward spiral. It was surely reaching for height, seeking the support of a constant breeze.

The Hobby is a summer visitor and this year it’s electrifying presence had been very evident. A hunting territory seemingly centring on the village with it’s plentiful food supply. But now it was time to go – probably to follow the favoured prey species, the Martins, Swallows and Dragonflies. The cooler night air was already encouraging their departure and the Hobby must follow suit.

I followed the falcon’s progress. As it crossed the orb of the Sun, it started to diminish to a dot and eventually melted into the upper air.