• Ian Cognito

June 2021 - Through The Window

The weather over the past month has been interesting. According to the Met Office, this May was the fourth wettest May since records began. Then we jump into high temperatures and have had some of the highest temperatures so far this year. I noticed the temperature recorded at the North Pickenham weather station nudged 26C on a couple of occasions. This ‘bunching’ up of the usual seasons even has a name. According to the latest RSPB newsletter this is called ‘seasonal compression’. Everything seems to be happening together.


fields of potato and cereals with distant homestead. Photo taken in Necton, Norfolk
View across the fields towards Ivy Todd

There have been some interesting things to see while walking around the village.

On 20th May, while walking around fields alongside Chapel Road, Necton, we saw two skylarks plus two young perched on the overhead wires. The young were flapping their wings in the ‘feed me’ fashion used by fledglings. The two adults took to the wing and flew around the youngsters as if to say ‘fly with us’. The youngsters did so, and the four of them flew off across the triangular field keeping close together in a very tight flock. A little while later, on the other side of the field we put up a flock of seven skylarks. We wondered if the four of our first sighting were part of this group.


There was also the annual swarming of Snake Flies to contend with while walking around the area. Although they are harmless they got in the way, which required a bit of arm waving to move through them. I remember back in the mid 1990’s I had a pony and trap and during the snake fly swarms there were a few adventures with the pony, and me, being irritated and itchy while trotting through clouds of snake flies. Mind you, those were nothing as exciting as the adventure my little pony and I had with a hot air balloon. But that’s a tale for another time.


Another thing I noticed while walking around was the large red farm machine with the very large booms or arms stretched out on either side, working out on the fields. It looked like a huge, mechanical dragonfly. And speaking of dragonflies, they have appeared over the pond. Not many at the time of writing. The only type so far is the fairly short blue tailed one. It is strange how, as the year progresses, the dragonflies get larger and longer. Perhaps because of their size they need more energy from the sun, so their type emerges from their watery home when it’s warmer. But at the moment it’s the blue tailed type, plus Damsel flies and the smaller demoiselle (I only found out these existed fairly recently).


Newly discarded dragonfly larva case
Newly discarded dragonfly larva body

My wife had an experience with one of the early hatching dragonflies on May 16th. One had crawled out of the pond and across nigh on twenty feet of grass and up shed siding to a place where it could transform from the larvae stage to dragon stage. My wife was sitting out there when there was a ‘plop’ onto her lap and looking down she saw this ‘thing’ on her lap, which could have been a large spider. Resisting the urge to run around the garden shrieking and flapping her hands in the air, she looked closer to see it was a newly hatched dragonfly. It had dropped out of its cocoon and fallen onto her lap. Not all its wings had pumped up with blood (or whatever dragonflies have) and so to help it, my wife held out her shirt so the dragonfly was in the sun. The remaining wing pumped up and the dragon flew off.


A very useful dragonfly spotter's guide has been produced by The Freshwater habitats Trust.


If you have walked all around the perimeter of Ashill Common you’ll most likely have seen the large barn out in the fields. This overlooks lower land on which stands Necton. It was only recently that I thought to look from Necton to see if the barn was visible. And it is. Walking around the large field to one side of Chapel Road, if you stand in the right place, you can see the barn.

This made me ask myself the question, back in the days of steam trains running from Watton to Swaffham, could a person have seen those trains while walking around the field? And even more of a question, back in the days of the Roman occupation of Britainnia there was an enclosure (or fort) built not far from where Ashill Common is now. Could a RomanoBritish citizen/slave have seen the enclosure from the present day field location in Necton?


May 29th was a big day for me. I’ve been waiting to see if we get any Swallows, Martins or Swifts back in our area. Then on the 29th, I saw the first Martins flying around the fields. So they are back. Hopefully, the swallows will return also.

It has fascinated me how normal bird species can have ones of a different colour. I saw a photo of a white blackbird the other day so I’ve kept a closer eye on things. To date I’ve seen a white great tit, and black and white blackbirds. But the most interesting to me, was a black pheasant. I’ve seen different hued pheasants, but not a black one before.


The other thing I’ve been waiting to see this year has been a bat sighting. Finally, I saw one on 10th June. We do have a wide range of bat species around Necton. Surveys have been done to identify what species there are. These include: Noctule; Common Pipistrelle; Soprano Pipistrelle; Barbastelle; Serotine; Nathusius Pipistrelle and the Brown Long-eared. Some of these species are classified as rare. With bat feeding ranges varying between one half and six miles, they probably fly all over and around Necton.


It was a surprise just the other day to find an area of flattened grass in the garden where a muntjac deer had been laying up. It’s a rare thing for us to see them in the garden. Around Necton, though, there are both Muntjac and Roe deer. In fact walking down Chapel Road we saw a group of four Roe deer grazing in a field between the road and wooded land. But on a down side, it has been sad to see the number of dead deer, both Roe and Muntjac, along the A47. These animals appear to have no concept of the hazard of moving objects, such as cars and lorries. I remember once, many years ago, driving along a narrow lane similar to St.Andrews Lane, probably doing about 30 mph. Out of the corner of my right eye I saw a blur of movement and a Roe deer jumped the roadside embankment and landed in the middle of the road. It immediately jumped off the road and over the bank to the left. But it all happened before I had time to react. That time the deer got away with it. Had I been driving a bit faster, or the deer a bit slower, I would have driven into it.


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