Oxhill News

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South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

March 2005


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Nature Notes

Named after Mars; in Gaelic Mart – “the winter spring”.

Coming back from Stratford the other Saturday morning, I had just turned down the gated road to Oxhill when I had to brake for a buzzard that flew out of the spinney on the left very low across the road.  To my surprise it was quickly followed by another one.  I stopped the car and saw a third buzzard appear and I watched them fly quite low across the field towards Hutsby’s hanging wood.  To my amazement a fourth appeared and the four soared and dived above the wood.  Could they be two pairs looking for a nesting site?  I do hope so.  Although buzzards are territorial, they seem quite tolerant of close neighbours and will certainly roost in groups.  Some years ago in a very small oak wood in central Wales I saw seven buzzards and five red kites roosting all within sight of each other.  Twenty years ago you would not have seen a buzzard outside Wales or the West Country, mainly due to the disappearance of rabbits through myxomatosis in the early fifties when buzzards nearly became extinct.  But thankfully this large and beautiful bird of prey has made a remarkable recovery and is now seen all over the UK.  Contrary to its reputation as a scavenger, the buzzard usually kills for itself, although I have on several occasions seen them at the site of a “road kill”.  Rabbits and voles are probably the main part of its diet, but they are also partial to frogs and toads.

A couple of days ago we had a tree creeper in the garden.  This little bird, wren sized, is extremely mouse-like in its movements, and the Somerset name for it is “tree mouse”.  Scurrying up tree trunks and along branches it uses its small pointed curved bill to dig insects from between the tree bark and will often feed hanging upside down.  When it moves to another trunk it always starts at the foot of the tree and works upwards, unlike the nuthatch that works down the trunk.  Hard winters really affect this little bird and they will often accompany groups of tits in the search for insects, grain, or weed seeds.  They nest in crevices, cracks and between planks.  We rather suspect that our little tree creeper may be trying to nest in our bat box!

March 21st is the Spring Equinox and the first day of Spring, when the Sun enters the house of Aries:

“He that is born in Aries shall have good wit, and be neither rich nor poor.  He shall be soon angry and soon pleased.  He shall be a liar and unsteadfast of courage, and will take vengeance on his enemies.  Unto thirty-four years he shall be a fornicator and wedded at thirty five: and if he be not, he shall not be chaste.  He shall live seventy five years after nature.” – Kalender of Shepheardes, 1604.

Grenville Moore

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Last modified: February 27, 2005