Oxhill News

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South Warwickshire, England.

The Oxhill News

November 2014

This months News



Nature Notes

November is the Pioneer of Winter, who comes with his sharp winds and keen frosts, to cut down every bladed and leafy bit of green that is standing up, so as to make room for the coming snowflakes to fall on the level waste, and form a great bed for Winter to sleep on ……

Chambers Book of Days, 1864

In the astronomical division of the seasons Autumn does not ‘officially’ end until late December, but we all associate November with the beginning of winter. The last leaves fall from deciduous trees and many species start to hibernate.

Traditionally for people living close to the land it has marked a period of final preparation for the cold dark months ahead.
While attending an OWLS meeting a few nights ago at Phil Brennan’s, I stood on the doorstep to knock the door, and out of the corner of my eye I saw a small movement in the gravel down to my side. I knelt down to look and to my astonishment, well camouflaged, I saw a female great crested newt swallowing
a large earthworm. The worm was partly underground, its head sticking out of the soil an inch away. The newt had the rear end, which was out of the soil, and was tugging and swallowing at the
same time. Every few seconds it would tug and thrash, rather like a crocodile, and seemed to be winning the contest. We photographed this unusual event and went in for our meeting. Later on when leaving there was no sign of the newt or the worm. The earthworm is part of the great crested newt’s diet, along with crustacea and molluscs. Great crested newts breed and lay their eggs, 200 to 400, from March to July. The young
hatch after two-to-three weeks and develop into adults after about three months. The adult newts leave the ponds at the end of July into August and some will go underground or into old ditches, many will go under buildings, flagstones or wood piles,
coming out to feed up until November when they will go into hibernation. People have reported digging up newts from two feet down and they seemed to be plump and healthy, surviving in tightly-compacted soil.

Hedgehogs seem to have made a comeback this year. I have had many reports of sightings in gardens all round the village, so please remember if you are having a bonfire on Guy Fawkes night, please check under your bonfire before you light it. On 4 November wood was collected for Guy Fawkes bonfires and gingerbread and ‘plat toffee’ were made:

A stick and a stake
For King George’s sake
Will you please give us a faggot
If you won’t give one, we’ll steal two
The better for we and the worse for you

Warwickshire rhyme

Grenville Moore

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Last modified: November 01, 2014