Oxhill News

www.oxhill.com / www.oxhill.org.uk

South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

May 2005


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May 1
June Issue
Cover Picture
Closure Tysoe Road
Garden Club
Plant Stall
Service Times
Advance Warning
Church Flowers
Helen House Hospice
25 Years Ago
For The Record
Chernobyl's Children
Chernobyl's Children Coffee Morning
Refuse Collection
Payment Of State Pension
Shipston Home Nursing
Nature Notes
Annual Parish Meeting
Tysoe Marionettes
WI Report
Parish Clerk
Rocky The Larador
Just a Thought
WI Coffee Morning
Pot Competition
Scarecrow Weekend
The Churchyard
Bluebell Walk
Tysoe School PTA
Churchyard Bench

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Nature Notes

May is the month of Milk and May Games, probably named after Maia, a Roman goddess of growth and increase.  May Day: Beltane, the Celtic festival of Summer’s beginning.

To leave a branch of hawthorn (May) at a friend’s door is a luck-bringing compliment; but “gifts” of other kinds of tree can be insulting:

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

Looking back slightly to Easter Monday, you may remember what a beautiful clear sunny day it was.  We were in the garden and I heard that familiar “mewing” of a buzzard.  Looking up and to my surprise right over the centre of the village were no less than five buzzards all circling and calling.  This is the beginning of their breeding cycle when established pairs that have wintered in their territory will start their aerial nuptial display on the first warm clear days of spring, often soaring as much as a thousand feet or more above the ground.  A circling pair may attract other neighbouring buzzards, which was obviously what was happening over Oxhill.  The male bird being much lighter but with the same wing span always gains more height, often hundreds of feet above the female.  Indeed on this day one of the buzzards within just a couple of minutes became a tiny dot in the sky as he rose up on the thermals.  Apparently, but rarely a pair will lock claws in flight and will come cartwheeling down, their wings resembling the rotating sails of a windmill.  (In February I wrote of two crows emulating this behaviour).  As with the crows I saw, they break apart on nearing the ground.  However, there is a reported occasion when two struggling buzzards fell on to the back of a horse ridden by an exceedingly surprised Monmouthshire farmer.  It was speculated that this was more likely a fight between two rival males.

As I was writing these notes, I was disturbed by furious bird chatter outside our front door, and on looking out of the window I saw a starling and a house sparrow fighting on the ground (different species rarely engage in actual aggressive fighting).  This carried on for some time until the starling gained the advantage and standing on the sparrow began pecking at it in a very savage manner.  Now I know one should not intervene with nature, survival of the fittest and all that, but I’m afraid I did rush out and in non uncertain terms told the starling where to go!  Thankfully it did and the sparrow flew away seeming none the worse for its encounter.

Talking of strange happenings, a friend from Kineton phoned me the other evening.  He had been standing in his kitchen and noticed from his window a sparrowhawk pursuing a wood pigeon across his garden.  They had their baby granddaughter staying, who was in the drawing room, and seconds later he heard a tremendous crash and the shattering of glass.  Fearing that his granddaughter had perhaps hurled a projectile at the television, he rushed in to see that the wood pigeon had smashed through the centre pane of his large sash window, completely removing it, and smashing the two panes on either side.  The wood pigeon was lying in the middle of the carpet and to his amazement it picked itself up, adjusted its feathers, and calmly flew back out of the open window pane.  Thankfully his granddaughter, apart from being somewhat surprised, was safe and sound, although it proved to be rather a costly “nature experience” for him.

10 May is “Dotterel Day”: the high point of the bird-netting season.  “The dotterel is a very foolish bird, but excellent meat, and with us accounted a great delicacy, indeed all manner of small birds be good and light of digestion except sparrows, which be hard of digestion.  Titmouses, colemouses and wrens, the which eat spiders and poisons, be not commendable: and of all small birds the lark is best, then is praised the blackbird and thrush.”

Andrew Boorde, Dietary of Health 1547

Grenville Moore

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Last modified: May 10, 2005