Oxhill News

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South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

January 2009

This months News



Nature Notes

The old Celtic name for this month describes it as “the dead month”, the end of winter (in a calendar where February was the first month of spring) or simply “the beginning of the year”.  The Anglo-Saxons called it Wolfmanath, perhaps because it was a time when these ravening beasts were most likely to take human prey ……sssh! what was that howling?

January is the open gate of the year, shut until the shortest day passed, but now open to let in the lengthening daylight, which will soon fall upon dim patches of pale green, that shew where spring is still sleeping.  Sometime between the hoary pillars – when the winter is mild – a few wan snowdrops will peep out and catch the faint sunlight which streams in coldly through the opening gateway, like timid messengers sent to see if spring has yet stirred from her long sleep.

Chambers Book of Days 1864

This morning, just a couple of days before Christmas, while having my breakfast, I was watching on our patio a cock pheasant, a wren and a robin, all pecking about together, completely tolerant of each other’s presence.  The wren when passing close to the pheasant’s large scaly legs looked minute, the pheasant magnificent in his show-off dandy plumage, the little cock robin puffing his red chest out, perhaps in a vain attempt to compete with the pheasant; then in a minute they were gone.  It struck me that different species of bird rarely, if ever, fight and squabble.  Starlings and corvids can be a bit bolshy, but never unprovoked violence, so why can man, the so-called most intelligent of species, behave so badly to one another?  Just my thought for Christmas!

Now has anyone heard the starling that has mastered the mewing call of the buzzard.  He sits at the top of a tree in our garden and seems to catch me out most days, making me whirl round thinking there’s a low-flying buzzard passing over our garden.  Indeed there are reports of starlings making the calls of owls, geese, quail, pheasant, curlew and even chickens, and they are by no means restricted to bird imitations.  Cat, goat, frog, telephones and sexy wolf whistles have all been documented.  The starling’s capacity to imitate human speech has long been recognised.  Pliny apparently made the somewhat suspicious claim that in Rome starlings had been taught to speak Latin and Green and that they could repeat whole sentences.  Perhaps they could be taught to say “a very happy Christmas to all who read this”.

January 21st the sun enters the House of Aquarius
The woman
(born under this sign) shall be delicious and have many noises for her children; she shall be in great peril at twenty four years, and thereafter felicity.  She shall have damage by beasts with four feet, and shall live seventy seven years after nature”

Kalendar of Shepheards 1604

Grenville Moore

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Last modified: December 29, 2008