Oxhill News

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South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

March 2003


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Nature Notes

March, the month of new life, named after Mars, the Roman god of war (let's hope that's not significant!)

The majority of mornings while walking the dog I see a hare, or on some occasions, several, and of course this month sees mad March hares performing their mating rituals. Scan the fields as you drive in and out of the village and if you are lucky you could well see two hares standing on their hind legs and appearing to be boxing. Almost invariably one is a male and the other an unreceptive female spurning his advances. The Brown hare is the most mysterious of British mammals, and there is archaeological evidence of its presence here from the Iron Age onwards. No other animal has so much folklore connected to it. The other morning while walking along Green Lane at sunrise, I saw a single hare running round in small circles while bobbing up and down (this may have been a male trying to attract the attention of a female). Folk lore has it that hares acting oddly may well be shape-shifting witches or "were-hares", and as such can only be killed with a silver bullet, or by placing rowan and vervain behind the gun stock, but fortunately (for the hare) I did neither.

Parker Smith reports that the other day his apple trees were pruned and no sooner had they finished when no less than four Great Spotted Woodpeckers alighted on the tree and appeared to be busy "doing something". Woodpeckers' favourite diet is bees, wood wasps, and their eggs and larvae. The wood wasp is a yellow and black insect with a long tail-like ovipositor, (often wrongly assumed to be a sting), which it uses to deposit its eggs, often into the bark of fruit trees, and the larvae then hatch and then form cocoons. With the branches disturbed and cut, perhaps the woodpeckers were taking advantage of the exposed larvae or cocoons. We may watch wild creatures, but rest assured they watch us as well.

Look forward to the 21st, the Spring Equinox and the first day of spring. And remember on the 31st "it is lucky to say 'Hares Hares' aloud as you go to bed on the last day of the month, and to say 'Rabbits Rabbits' as soon as you awaken the following morning". Go on, give it a try!

Grenville Moore


The common cormorant, or shag,
Lays eggs inside a paper bag.
The reason you will see, no doubt,
It is to keep the lightning out,
But what these unobservant birds
Donít notice is that herds
Of wandering bears may come with buns
And steal the bags to hold the crumbs.

You and I both know that the shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) is not the common cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo), but they are both common, and they are pretty alike, so we must excuse Anon his mistake.

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Last modified: August 30, 2003