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Animals

Country diary: crickets in the bushes, staring eyes in the water

Waltham Brooks, West Sussex: Alarm calls identify me as the intruder here

Today seems to be the day of the gatekeepers. Dozens of the bright, coppery-brown butterflies are fluttering around, rising above the lush green grasses and bushes, buffeted by the breeze in the afternoon sunshine. There’s an oppressive wall of sound – a cacophony of grasshoppers and crickets – although, in spite of searching the noisiest plants, I find many grasshoppers but no crickets. Easier to spot is a male stonechat, which gives away its presence on top of a bramble with harsh “click-click” calls that sound like small stones being clipped together, giving the bird its name. Its black head and white collar band are looking a little scruffy now, worn down by a summer helping to bring up young.

Related: Country diary: singing stonechat gives after-hours performance

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