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South Warwickshire, England.
The Oxhill News
Spring cuckoo’s month and the Roman Aperilis – from aperio, to open or
display: the month when the earth opens.
I write this month’s notes we have just had a stormy weekend with very
high winds, and on Friday morning we were woken by the wind rattling our
bedroom window at about 5.30 am, but the wind wasn’t the only noise we
heard. There was a continuous
loud solitary bird song although there was barely a glimmer of light.
It was in fact a mistle thrush.
It is a noticeable feature of this bird’s behaviour that, unlike
most other birds who seek shelter from stormy weather, this bird seems to
be stimulated by approaching storms and will sing or call lustily before
and during bad weather. As a
solitary singer it is particularly conspicuous
and is often referred to as the stormcock or storm thrush.
It has been heard singing during a driving snowstorm.
Not normally an aggressive bird, it is fearless in defence of its
nest and will drive off marauding jackdaws and rooks and will even attack
and beat off a kestrel or sparrowhawk.
It is larger than the song thrust, greyer in appearance and the
breast markings are more blotched and spotted, which is nicely described
in another local name – the marbled thrush.
We were particularly delighted to hear this song bird because like
its cousin the song thrush, numbers have dropped dramatically in recent
years, thought to be related to the loss of damp ditches and field margins
where the birds find much of their food.
walking down the long meadow below the church the other morning, my
attention was drawn to movement in the group of Ash trees as you enter the
field, and saw a grey squirrel which seemed unaware of my presence.
I then noticed a second squirrel sitting on a higher branch.
The first squirrel, which I presume to be a male, started an
amazing “trapeze act”, spinning, turning, and doing a fantastic tail
waving display which was obviously his courtship tactics.
Although most people look on the squirrel as an endearing creature,
it is in fact an American alien and spread in the 1920s from the
Zoological Gardens in
is the first month of spring, and with it comes the cuckoo.
This migratory bird from Africa will leave the south of
With April comes Easter, so here is an Easter recipe from “The Closet of Sir Kenelm Digby, opened 1669”:
To make an Eastertide Tansy take three pints of cream, fourteen new laid eggs (the whites of seven putt away), one pint of juice of Spinnach, six or seven spoonfuls of juice of Tansy, a Nutmeg (or two) grated small, half a pound of sugar, a little salt. Beat all well together, then fry it is a pan with no more Butter than is necessary. When it is enough serve it up with juice of orange or slices of lemon upon it.
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Last modified: June 04, 2004