Oxhill News

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South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

December 2009

This months News



Nature Notes

O Dirty December, Yet Christmas remember.  This month keep thy body and head from cold; let thy kitchen be thine Apothecary, warm clothing thy Nurse, merry company thy keepers, and good hospitality thine Exercise.  (Neve’s Almanack, 1633)

As I write this the country is experiencing severe winds and rain that have had devastating results on land, buildings and people.  Not only does it have a physical effect on some people, but it can affect our temperament.  A wind from the north-east will cut us to the bone and make us bad tempered; a warm westerly bathes us in a blanket of warm air and induces a feeling of wellbeing.  Apparently in southern France when the Mistral blows down from the north, the murder rate increases.  Most cultures have names for particular winds.  I can remember in 1968 a southerly wind knows as a ‘blood rain’ that brought sand from the Sahara and on 1 July people got up to find they had red cars and indeed red roofs on their houses.  In Cumberland they have the feared easterly know as the Helm wind; in Cheshire it’s a Whittle; in Cornwall a Waddy, and in Norfolk and Suffolk sudden winds are known as Rogers.  The wind tantalises with its invisible power and in many beliefs it is the breath of God. 

One group of birds that seem to relish and enjoy the wind are the Corvids or crow family.  They seem to play and are like the youth of the bird world.  They ride winds like surfers and work it like skateboarders, twisting, turning, jinxing, then doing abrupt stalls, dives and rolls, all the time shouting and ‘laughing’.  Have you ever heard a raven chuckle – it’s a treat!  But not everything is rosy in the world of Corvids.  A week or two ago I was alerted by crows making a cacophony of noise, which had aggression and anger in it.  It was coming from the field behind the Peacock car par.  There were a lot of crows in the air circling and occasionally diving.  When I looked over the hedge I could see a single crow pinned down on its back by several other crows and four or five other birds were lunging in, violently pecking at it – I could see feathers coming out.  Had a ‘Parliament’ sentenced this bird to death?  I have read and heard about this happening before.  Anyway I interfered with nature by shouting and clapping my hands, and in a black cloud they all vanished, seemingly the victim as well.  A couple of mornings later, and most mornings since then, I have noticed early in the morning a single large crow walking around the pub car park, obviously looking for morsels.  I then noticed something odd about this crow – it has one white wing – was this the sentenced bird? And if so, was the white wing the reason?  A mystery.  I have been trying to get a photo of this bird, so far without success.

            So now is come our joyful feast
            Let every man be jolly
            Each room with ivy leaves is dressed
            And every post with holly
            Without the door, let sorrow lie,
            And if for cold, it hap to die,
            We’ll bury it in a Christmas pie
            And evermore be merry


I have been working at a house a couple of villages away – excellent garden for nuthatches – but the night before I was there the garden shed was emptied of mowers etc by thieves, so be extra vigilant over Christmas, and if you are going away, let your neighbours know and do not load your car up the night before you leave.

Grenville Moore

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Last modified: November 26, 2009