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South Warwickshire, England.
The Oxhill News
March, the month of new
life, named after Mars, the Roman god of war (let's hope that's not
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!
The common cormorant, or
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