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South Warwickshire, England.
The Oxhill News
– The Roman Aperilis, from aperio, to open or display – the month when
the Earth opens.
there is one ornithological signpost each year more widely recognised than
the arrival of the first swallow, it is the sound of the first cuckoo of
spring. For decades this singular event has been a regular matter for the
correspondence columns of the national press. It has long been said that
the first cuckoos arrive in
is lucky to be walking when you hear the first cuckoo and to be sitting
when you see your first swallow, but unlucky if you hear your first cuckoo
from your bed. If you have no money in your pocket when she calls, you
will be poor all that year, but if you immediately sit down and take off
your left shoe, you will find in it a hair of exactly the same colour as
that of your true love!
the numbers of cuckoos are on the decline, and it is thought this may be
due to the fall in population of their host birds. Indeed last year there
seemed only to be one pair in and around the village, although in previous
years I can remember getting rather tired of their constant
“cuckooing” especially in the early morning.
cuckoo is commonly mistaken for a sparrowhawk which is is similar in
colour and outline, both having a barred breast with mainly grey upper
parts. The resemblance to a sparrowhawk might also explain the old belief
that cuckoos turn into hawks in autumn.
In April come he will
In April come he will
other morning I had just got up when I heard an amazing cacophony going on
outside, and looking out of the window I saw what I estimated to be 90 to
100 crows and jackdaws circling over the area above the telephone box. The
noise was alarm mixed with aggression. As I watched, birds kept diving out
of the melee and swooping down to the entrance to Mrs Swan’s drive. I
rushed down to see what it was and on the ground was a rolling bundle of
black and brown feathers, which broke up as I approached, and a
sparrowhawk and a jackdaw flew away. The sparrowhawk had obviously swooped
down on what it may have though to be a blackbird (large prey even for a
sparrowhawk) and was surprised by the size and fighting spirit of its
catch. What amazed me was that it was not only the immediate group of 20
– 30 jackdaws that live in the area, but other groups including crows
that came to give support to one of their own. The escaped jackdaw seemed
save a Maid, St George the Dragon slew
John Aubrey 1688
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Last modified: November 29, 2003