The Countryside About Us - September 1994

posted 31 Aug 2014, 08:42 by James Mansell
To live in any one of our East Suffolk villages has much to commend it especially if one has an enthusiasm for things agricultural and the natural world. Much flora and fauna share our domain. Every now and then a bonus is added to the privilege. For example, if you live along Low Road along the way towards Ashfield or Kenton, I would put the viewing of a kingfisher in the category “privileged!” Well at any rate it was the first kingfisher I had seen by the stream that runs parallel to the road. When I say “seen” who actually “sees” a kingfisher?  It is more of a glimpse or impression. A flash of electric blue is about all one actually sees but that is enough to be quite certain. It is good news for the health of the stream for this bird would not frequent the area if there was no supply of its food source, ie fish.  Let us hope a bank side burrow provided an undisturbed nesting site for these delightful birds.

The impression left by feet, be it bird or beast on smooth muddy surfaces can tell quite a story. Recently, whilst walking alongside a hedgerow, some way from human habitation, I was compelled to look for a second time at a few less than the usual imprints. Cloven hoofs were clearly visible. If there had been calves in this field the explanation would have been a simple one but none had been there. Mentioning this to the farmer whose land these imprints were on, he said he had seen a small group of roe deer that had, he thought, taken up residence in a nearby spinney.  It was their “spoor” I had stumbled upon.

The cereal harvest will have been safely gathered in by now. The larger combine harvesters can consume over 2 acres an hour. It came as a surprise to me and maybe to you too, to learn that the very first combine harvester to arrive in Cretingham parish came a full half century ago!  In Cambridgeshire I was driving one of the early Massey Harris combines in 1949. The driver had  no protection from the dust in those days, and the grain went  into bags that were dumped down a shoot, to be collected later on.

Roger Sykes