Home

Eye of Heron

December 27, 2016

What struck me was the cold, glassy eye of the Heron perching on a low fence at Oxnead this morning. The slight frost last night had still not entirely melted and the young Heron seemed to be waiting for movement or a sign of life.

592e2fd5-ee79-4a99-8fba-894e610c167f

Advertisements

Chasing comets in Norfolk

January 23, 2015

A crystal clear Norfolk over the village gave us a chance to do a bit of comet spotting. Comet Lovejoy sails high in the southern evening sky. We returned to the best man-made viewing platform – the old railway embankment. For the last few nights the Comet has been climbing alongside the constellations Orion and Taurus, but it was really only last night that it escaped the polluting skyglow from Norwich. A short search revealed it as a greenish glowing smudge to the west of that jewel-like cluster of stars, the Pleiades or Seven-Sisters. As we watched the frost nipped our fingers, but we felt some connection, no matter how distant, with cold space.

The frost lasted well into the morning. As I walked the (well wrapped) whippets along the railway line, a female Sparrowhawk leapt from the hedge. She carried a victim gripped in her talons and made her way to the relative sanctuary of the Blackthorns. We followed slowly and a hundred yards further on, she once again took flight. In that characteristic ground hugging way of theirs, she powered along before turning sharply through a narrow hedge gap and was gone. The colder weather nearly always brings with it closer encounters with predators. Driven by hunger they discard their innate caution and grab every opportunity, no matter how close to us. Further on, a smaller tiercel (male) Sparrowhawk swiftly leaves its vantage point in Bill’s front garden Cherry Tree and heads for the marshes. It is not only the Blue Tits that bird tables attract.

17th January 2015

The marsh in midwinter

December 29, 2014

Midwinter on the marsh. This morning’s sharp frost, a low sun and the chill threat of showers sweeping in from the north, combine to colour and etch the landscape. A section of a rainbow briefly touches the Mill Marsh as a brief squall washes in. A Kestrel is mobbed by a Crow and I hear the high pitched call of an unseen Kingfisher. The river runs high in its banks and the pool below the sluice does not look at all inviting. The dogs and I are thankful for the frost which has made out progress much easier over the muddy well-used river path.

By the time we reach the Common, the sun has raised the air temperature as long as we keep out of the wind. Moles have pockmarked the drier sections of river bank, but the soke dykes are full and the drains are running. Just below the horizon sun picks out the colours of cottages.

A crystal clear starlit night gives way to the morning garden etched by frost. The air feels fresh and welcoming as we walk out with the dogs. A Woodpecker’s rhythmic drumming resonates from the old oak at the top of the hill. This creates the feeling of anticipation – Spring may be some way off, but it is expected. Territories have to be established, defended and trumpeted. At this time of the year there is little noise to compete with the intermittent rattle that Woodpeckers can generate – at times there appears to be an echo, another bird drums it’s answer. The two birds swap percussion until one flies off in that curious bounding way to another tree, another territory.

A village Vixen

January 3, 2014

January is the time for foxes to establish their territories. Most nights, especially those cold starlit nights, a vixen’s sharp regular calls cut through the air from the old railway line. This particular night the call was much closer. I assume that it may be rich pickings in the immediate post Christmas period – perhaps the remains of a turkey carcass or similar – which draw gem in. This is when I am pleased that we have wheelie bins rather than the old black plastic bags. As I lay in bed, I try and remember whether I have shut the hens in their house and having satisfied myself that this was done, drift back off to sleep.

Rooks on the shortest day

December 21, 2013

As we approach the shortest day, the morning and evening flights from and to the rookery become more noticeable. Numbers are down as the flocks have somewhat dispersed but the slow and noisy trail of wind-tossed Rooks and Jackdaws across dramatic and often stormy dawn skies. Their flight lines are less direct than they were earlier in the year. They spread as if quartering the land. Less certain of the food supply. They call to one another – a language which does not seem to change. Pause and watch.