Oxhill News

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South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

February 2011

This months News



Nature Notes

February comes in like a sturdy country maiden, with a tinge of the red, hard winter apple on her healthy cheek, and as she strives against the wind, wraps her russet-coloured cloak well about her, while with bent head, she keeps throwing back the long hair that blows about her face, and though at times half-blinded by the sleet and snow, still continues her course courageously …. The mellow-voiced blackbird and the speckle-breasted thrush make music among the opening blossoms of the blackthorn, to gladden her way; and she sees faint flushings of early buds here and there, which tell her the long miles of hedgerows will soon be green.

Chambers Book of Days, 1964

Nature begins to stir in our gardens now; snowdrops, crocuses, hellebore and celandines will push through and flower.  If the weather warms up frogs will start spawning towards the end of the month.  Newts too, can often be seen in our ponds – go out at night with a torch, shine it into the water and hopefully you will see the common (smooth) newt and many of you should also see the great-crested newt – not so rare in Oxhill.  There are no records in South Warwickshire for palmate newt or for the adder, but the grass snake may be seen basking in sheltered spots when the sun comes out.  Remember they are harmless and more frightened of you than you are of them.

One of the most definite signs of nature waking up is the reappearance of those butterflies which spend the winter months hibernating; the tortoiseshell, whose numbers have declined dramatically over the past few years, and later in the month the bright yellow brimstones should also start to make an appearance.  Many of the normally migrating red admirals have started overwintering in Britain and also can be seen quite early on.  I just hope the hard winter we have experienced has not taken its toll on these insects.

I am pleased to write that the severe weather did not take its toll on the kingfisher.  Tom Heritage reported seeing one along our brook a couple of weeks ago – that is good news, but still no sighting of waxwings, supposedly all over the country, except Oxhill!

Many birds will now begin to pair off, especially the crow family.  As I write this I can see the jackdaws sitting in the silver birch trees opposite out cottage.  They are ‘paired off’ and leaning up against each other like couples sitting cuddling on benches in a park.

We have just had a full moon and a period of wonderful crisp bright moonlit nights.  Late one cold clear evening I heard a dog fox bark, followed by silence, which was suddenly shattered by a scream – the tingling bloodcurdling yell of the vixen, and then a brief cacophony of yelps and barks and then silence.  Where was this all happening?  Right next to the phone box in the centre of the village!

February 9th is St Appollonia’s day – protectress of dentists and invoked against toothache.

“A sure medicine for the toothache: Taketh the worms breeding under wood or stones and having many feet, and when they be touched they do cluster together like porkenpicks.  These pierced through with a bodkin and put into the tooth that acheth will allayeth the pain”. The Homish Apothecary, 1561

Grenville Moore

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Last modified: February 06, 2011