Oxhill News

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South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

October 2010

This months News



Nature Notes

We were recently on holiday down in Devon and on the hot days we just relaxed in the garden and were intrigued by three crows that would wander round the lawn  close to us, pecking in the ground.  Every so often one of the crows would come very close and for a moment fix us with its black beady eye.  It is very unusual for crows to be at ease so close to humans.  These crows would also spend many hours in a tree at the edge of the lawn, and one morning we watched them when, much to our amazement, one suddenly swung round the branch it was perched on and hung upside down for about half a minute.  The others ignored it!  It then leaned upwards, took hold of the branch with its large black beak and swung itself upright once again.  For the next two days I had my camera at the ready hoping for a repeat performance, but no such luck. 

Now here’s a useless piece of information.  The crow’s skill in prising open possible food sources with that powerful curved beak gave us our ‘crowbar’, and also the Romans had their ‘corvus’, a beaked piece of iron hinged to the masts of ships which were used as a grappling hook.

I am currently working at a house just outside Chipping Campden and in the surrounding parkland there is a herd of Red deer.  They were first introduced into the park over 250 years ago.  For the last couple of weeks it has been the start of the rutting season and every day we are treated to the guttural bellows of the stags and have been fortunate to witness the clashing antlers in the battle to establish supremacy and mating rights, at times only 100 yards from the house.  The dominant male is a ‘Royal’ stag, which means he has twelve points to his antlers.  The male is known as a stag and the female a hind.  Stag is Middle English and the name given to any male animal in his prime.  When a Red deer comes into his fifth year he was known as a ‘hart’ and a male with his first antlers in his second year a ‘brocket’.  I was also pleased to see a mature white stag within this herd – a ‘White Hart’, the name given to many pubs, and indeed we have the White Hart at Newbold in what would have been Ettington Park.

Towards the end of October “if the leaves will not fall from the trees, or else when there are a great number of caterpillars on the trees, then followeth after a cold winter” …. “If the birds are fat in October, expect a hard winter.” (The Knowledge of Things Unknown, 1729)

Flocks of migrant woodcock arrive about now; they were once believed to spend summer on the moon!

Grenville Moore

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Last modified: September 28, 2010