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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.

This morning’s soaring temperature has brought a welcome crop of new butterflies. On our way round with the dogs a Buddleja at Romany Cottage was laden with newly-minted Peacock butterflies. Seemingly no more than a few days old, their wing colours are vibrant and polished. They stand out amongst the more weather-beaten Red Admirals and Commas which have been flying for some time. A single Painted Lady bustled about – possibly a migrant from the continent as the steady winds have been from a south-easterly direction for the last few days.

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