Oxhill News

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South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

October 2003


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October Events
Nature Notes
Service Times
Festival Choir
Harvest Festival
Pate & Puds
PC Report 9th September 2003
Riding Report
WI Report
Lardies Tour
Whatcote Xmas Pudding
Garden Club
Talgarth Choir
Bingo Night
Village Hall

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Nature Notes

October – Fruit-time and Fall-of-Leaf, the eighth month of the Roman calendar.

St Francis’ Day, the 4th, is traditionally the day that the swallows start to prepare to migrate; watch for them sitting in tight formation on telegraph wires.  The disappearance of swallows and other migrants in the autumn was for a long time a great mystery.  Some firmly believed that they hibernated at the bottom of lakes or ponds, and others that they hid in holes and bushes and remained torpid until spring.  In 1776 Gilbert White in his Naturalist’s Journal questioned this notion “But if hirundines (swallow family) hide in rocks and caverns, how do they, while torpid, avoid being eaten by weasels and other vermin?”  Well of course we now know that they make a long arduous journey to Africa .  There are inns named The Swallow and there are a handful of places named for an association with swallows, apparently the most likely being Swalcliffe (‘a cliff where swallows nest’). 

The swallows have done particularly well this year, many having up to three broods.  I have just finished working in a Gothic tower just west of Stratford , and under the overhang of the castellations there were no less than twenty-one swallows nests, and up to the last week of September, three still had a brood being attended by the parents.  While working here we were treated almost daily to a rarity in the Midlands .  We were alerted by their deep throated hoarse croak and looking out saw three Ravens, and most days were delighted see them performing aerial acrobatics – clasping talons and tumbling while holding on to each other.  These birds breed mainly in Western Scotland , Wales and the West Country and are usually seen on cliffs, quarries, moors and windswept hills.  A neighbour said that this particular threesome were regular visitors from the Malverns and came to steal her Mulberries!  The Raven is the largest member of the crow family and is renowned for its intelligence and is also the largest species of perching bird in the world.  It was once common throughout Britain but was persecuted by man and driven into mountainous regions.  It was believed to be the harbinger of death, probably because of its jet black colour and its habit of feeding on the corpses of victims on the gibbet.

I have had reports of two sightings in the village of a blackbird-sized bird, but completely honey coloured with a bright red beak?  This is certainly not a native or visiting bird that I know of – has anyone out there any ideas?

Celebrate St Crispin’s Day – October 25th – Anniversary of the great English victory at Agincourt , 1415.

                   This day is called the Feast of Crispian
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by
From this day to the ending of the world
But we in it shall be remembered. 

Shakespeare, Henry V  IV iii

Grenville Moore

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Last modified: March 28, 2004