Oxhill News

www.oxhill.com / www.oxhill.org.uk

South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

July 2009

This months News



Nature Notes

Traditionally for farmers and land workers the time between haymaking and harvest were the busiest times of the year and it used to be considered unlucky to marry at this time.  “They that wive twixt sickle and scythe shall never thrive”.  “If the first of July it be rainy weather ‘twill rain, more or less, for four weeks together”, and if it does and your mind wanders to ‘other things’ take heed, Markham’s The English Husbandman warns “In this month of July, eschew all wanton bed-sports, and of all things forbear Lettuce”.

As we go into July, notice the quietening of the dawn chorus, and with the exception of the robin and maybe the “storm cock” (song thrush) conjuring up a storm, most birds will now be quiet and some of our summer visitors will start to get restive as their migratory urge makes itself felt, which will be quite soon for the swifts.  Unfortunately there are few swifts and swallows this year and there only seem to be about half a dozen swallows over Oxhill this year.  I remember days when it would be 30 or 40 and indeed when I lived at the pub there were regularly five or six pairs that nested in the stable (as it was then) and under the arch entrance, for those of you who remember.  As well as young birds making their way, many young mammals will be look for their own new territories.  You may recall last month I wrote about a stubble field where lapwings were nesting.  About a week ago we were watching the young lapwings when I noticed a group of four leverets (young hares) who had formed a circle.  Taking turns, one would rush into the centre then another would rush at it, and what I can only describe as leap-frogging, jump over the first.  This carried on for several minutes in a quite frantic manner, although it seemed deliberately choreographed.  Then, as one, they all stopped and rushed off ten metres or so, vanishing through a thick hedge.  Seconds later one hare came out of the hedge and at lightning speed shot off across the stubble field.  As it reached the other side, another hare appeared and did the same thing, exactly following the line the first had taken, then another and another.  None could see the other, yet they all followed the same line.  The first hare when reaching the far side of the field had turned sharp left and then gone down a track, then left again, coming down the long drive to the house where we were working.  On reaching the front lawn it turned sharply, went through a thick hedge and on across a field of plough, and the three hares following followed the precise path, although none could possibly see the other, but what was obvious was the fact as they reached the point on the front lawn, they would pause, and scenting the ground followed at the exact point the first hare had turned.  As the last hare arrived it took a minute or two frantically sniffing the ground, at one point taking off in the wrong direction, stopping, returning, sniffing all round only metres from us, then bingo! it picked up the scent and off it went in the right direction.  I know female adult hares will find their young in the scrape by scent (hares ‘nest’ above ground by just literally making a scrape in the soil), but I have never heard of or certainly seen hares scenting and playing like this.

A couple of days ago we visited some friends who live in Lighthorne and they took us to see the village red phone box, recently decommissioned and bought by the parish council for £1.00.  It has been turned into a miniature nature centre.  Every month it has topical jottings, photographs, maps, bird and mammal recognition charts, and where to see what.  It’s extremely well done – if you are in the area do go and visit it.

Next week the Oxhill Parish Biodiversity Group will be meeting for the first time and I will report back in the next issue.

Grenville Moore

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Last modified: July 07, 2009