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South Warwickshire, England.
The Oxhill News
midsummer month, in Anglo-Saxon Litha – the month of the midsummer moon.
for missing May nature notes, but a holiday in southern
the botanists among you, the most interesting find in
April I was walking early one morning along the brook, I was alerted by
that glorious haunting call of a Curlew.
Looking up I was pleased to see a pair flying quite low along the
line of the brook. It is a
large bird with a long down-curving beak and a voice that has a slightly
human quality, some say reminiscent of a lament.
They are easily lured by imitative calls and I called as they flew
over and one circled back right over me.
They are birds of moorland and estuaries but have now spread to
lower ground and farmland, but as a British breeding bird numbers are
declining because of changes in farming practices and the drainage of
wetlands. For many years now,
most summers we have had one or two pairs nesting just of the perimeter of
the village, and recently I have heard that master of mimic the starling
giving a very passable rendition of the Curlew’s call.
Estuary curlews will call at night while feeding, and birds which
do this are often accorded a sinister significance.
In the north of
I first came to Oxhill I became friends with the late Tom Firman who used
in the 1960s to wildfowl with Peter Scott, who of course later became a
world renowned naturalist. Tom
once told me “put your Curlew in the oven with a house brick; when the
brick is cooked the Curlew’s ready”.
this interesting bird is now protected.
summer warning – remember “Raw cream, eaten with strawberries, is a
rural man’s banquet: yet I have known such banquets that put men in
jeopardy of their lives, by the excess thereof”
Boorde – Dietry of Health 1547
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Last modified: June 04, 2004