Oxhill News

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South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

May 2010

This months News



Nature Notes

May, which should be gathered at or before sunrise, can be any kind of flowering greenery, although hawthorn (May-blossom), birch and rowan are the favourites, while sloe or blackthorn is an ill omen.  To leave a branch of hawthorn at a friend’s door is a luck-bringing compliment: but ‘gifts’ of other kinds of trees can be insulting:

                Nut for a slut; plum for the glum
                Bramble if she ramble; gorse for the whores

Fiach, Marburan, Croupy Craw, Corbie and Ralph are all colloquial names for the Raven.  The other morning a very large corvid flew over my fence followed by three ‘cawing’ crows.  It was just a fleeting glance, but I knew instantly that the first bird had been a Raven.  I have written on several occasions about the “Idlicote Ravens”, but one almost in my garden is very unusual.  To my delight later that day Janet Gardner phoned me to say she had had a rather strange, very large black crow-like bird on her bird table!  Was it a Raven?  And then almost on cue some of the press announced a Raven Invasion.  Apparently Ravens are coming back into counties all over the country.  A pair nested last summer on the white cliffs of Dover, the first in over 100 years.  This is a mighty bird, the largest of all the corvids; it is also one of the most powerful beasts of mythology and antiquity.  The famous ornithologist R M Lockley wrote:

When I see our Ravens I have a feeling almost, that this land is not mine, but theirs.  They have been here from time immemorial.  They are, so to speak, indestructible, they pair for life, and when one of the pair dies, a young bird immediately steps in to fill the gap.

Facts and myths about Raven – ‘Blind people who are kind to Ravens will regain their sight’ – ‘Noah sent a Raven out during the flood which went forth and fro until the waters were dried up from off the earth’ – ‘ They say the souls of the unbaptised go into Ravens and wicked priests become Ravens when they die’ – ‘Ravens drop stones on predators that threaten their nests or young’ – ‘They make distress calls that lead foxes to deal animals, the foxes break the carcases apart, so the birds can feast’ – ‘If the ten Ravens kept at the Tower of London ever leave, then the Kingdom will fall’.

                To see one raven is luck, ‘tis true
                But it’s certain misfortune to light upon two
                And meeting with three is the devil

So there you are Janet, your one raven will bring you good luck!

Grenville Moore

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Last modified: May 12, 2010