Oxhill News

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

South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

October 2014

This months News



Nature Notes

The Woods never look more beautiful than from the close of last month to the middle of October for by that time it seems as if nature had exhausted all her choicest colours on the foliage.  We see the rich burnished bronze of the oak; red of many hues, up to the gaudiest scarlet; every shade of yellow, from the wan gold of the primrose to the deep orange of the tiger-lily …. And all so blended and softened together in parts that like the colours on a dove’s neck, we cannot tell where one begins and the other ends.

Chambers Book of Days (1864) 

Sunny days in October still find many butterflies on the wing – Comma, Peacock and an autumn brood of Red Admirals and Tortoiseshells.  The year the Big Butterfly Count revealed that numbers of most of the target butterflies and day-flying moths decreased from the high point last year.  Almost three-quarters of species showed year-on-year decreases and the average number of individual butterflies seen per count fell considerably.  The coldest August since 1993 was probably one of the main factors resulting in a curtailing of one of the main flight periods and also forcing some back into hibernation.

The Large White saw a 65% decline, the Small White was down 60%, Ringlet down 58%, Marbled White (recorded in our garden last year) down 48%, and the early-flying Brimstone down 43%.  The gaudy Peacock topped the rankings with nearly ten thousand records, although that was actually a decrease of 30% from last year when it finished third in the rankings.  After a year-on-year decline the Small Tortoiseshell seems to have recovered with a 22% increase.  Common Blue was up 55%, the Speckled Wood up 28%, and the Red Admiral a 43% increase.  It’s worth mentioning that for the first time we recorded the Common Blue in Oxhill churchyard.  In folklore if you catch a butterfly and whisper a wish, in return for letting it go it will grant your wish. 

Sunday 14 September I was in our kitchen and noticed an ‘odd’ looking bird some twelve feet away at the top of the steps.  It appeared to be digging with its beak.  It was brown and about the size of a male sparrow.  I was pretty sure what it was, but grabbed my binoculars to confirm and joy of joys it was a Wryneck (Jynx torquilla).  This rare summer visitor is a member of the woodpecker family arriving about a week before the cuckoo from North Africa and Europe and returning mid-September to October.  (It is worth noting that back in 2007 Charles and Nadia McCall had one in their garden, just three doors down, on the garden path and at the same time of year).  The RSPB only have 280 sighting for the Wryneck this year; well, 281 now!  In the Midlands it was often referred to as the Cuckoo’s messenger or snake bird.  Wry comes from the Old English wrigian, meaning ‘to turn’, because the bird is capable of turning its head 180° and can perform snake-like contortions.  Its talent for turning itself back to front was given a literal application in witchcraft.  In order to bring about the return of a faithless lover a Wryneck was caught and attached to a wheel which was revolved, magical elements of ‘turning’ are used to effect a return.  The Wryneck or Jynx could also be used against an enemy and that’s how the phrase to ‘put a jinx on somebody’ came about.  As I am just writing this, a twitcher has just phoned me – they are in the village looking for the Wryneck after seeing my posting on the Internet.

Seen in Pillerton Priors the other day while filling the car up with petrol, a flock of some 30 Jackdaws completely surrounding and mobbing a Red Kite and escorting it out of their area.

Remember Saturday 11 October is Apple Day at the Community Orchard:

            There was a young lady from Ryde
            Who ate some green apples and died,
            The apples fermented
            Inside the lamented
            And made cider inside her inside

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.

©2014 Oxhill Village (Terms and Conditions of use)

Last modified: October 08, 2014