Oxhill News

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

South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

January 2010

This months News



Nature Notes

It is said that “as the days lengthen, the cold strengthens” and January is usually the coldest month of the year, even with climate change, so remember it is important to keep feeding the birds and providing water.  When you buy bird food always check it is from a reliable source and natural; some seeds and nuts may come from ‘sprayed’ crops or waste piles that can contain harmful bacteria or fungi.  Of course, while there are still berries on the trees and fallen fruit on the ground, the birds will have a plentiful larder. 

This last week I have been working at a farm between Tysoe and Brailes and in the garden are three beautiful large holly trees.  These trees are resplendent with masses of red berries and earlier in the week a flock of about 40 – 50 fieldfares discovered these trees.  Now you would think that they would just descend on all three trees at once and gorge themselves – plenty of berries and room to eat them – but no, they started with one tree, about a dozen at a time would feed while the rest of the flock perched on other trees and telegraph cables waiting their turn.  The other odd thing was that they started at the very top and slowly but surely worked their way round and down to the very lower branches until every single berry had vanished.  Then they started on the next tree and by the end of the week they had almost cleared that one.  I suspect that when I go back next week they will have nearly finished off the third tree, and that is only a small flock.  Rarely these days do you see a flock of more than 100, but that wasn’t always so.  In his diary of 2nd February 1831 the notorious old Hampshire sportsman Colonel Peter Hawker noted “an extraordinary influx of fieldfares, not less than 20,000”.  Being an extremely keen shot he then goes on to say “and so tame that you might have kept firing from morning to night, though I found it impossible to get more than five with one shot …. It was quite laughable when the storm ceased this afternoon to see and hear the levy en masse of rag-tag popgunmen blazing away at the fieldfares.  The whole country around was in one incessant state of siege …”  He later notes “I never ate more delicious birds in my life”.  He had a theory that such large flocks only occurred every century and he is probably right. 

In March 1977 there was a comparable roost of 25,000 birds recorded at Brandon just outside Coventry.  (Brandon Marsh is now a Warwickshire Nature Reserve, well worth a visit).  Of course up until the early 1950s it was legal to shoot and indeed eat most birds.  I remember in the 1970s in a shop in Ashby de la Zouch, and indeed one in Oxford’s covered market, you could see hanging in rows outside the premises pheasant, partridge, many varieties of wild duck and geese, rooks, moorhens and golden plover.  In future Notes I may regale you with some rather curious and interesting recipes!

January 20th is the Eve of St Agnes’ Day – a time for lovers’ divinations:

                Fair St Agnes play thy part
                And sent to me my own sweetheart
                Not in his best or worst array
                But in the clothes he wears every day

A very happy New Year to all of you and thank you for reading my ramblings!

Grenville Moore

This site is maintained by villagers of Oxhill for the benefit of the community and those interested in the history, news and activities that make the village such a pleasant place to live.

Send mail to the editor of the Oxhill News at news-editor @ oxhill.org.uk.

©2010 Oxhill Village (Terms and Conditions of use)

Last modified: January 01, 2010