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Crab spider on Pyramidal Orchid (c) Malcolm Brownsword

No.93

SPRING

2011

Beetle on Common Spotted Orchid (c) Malcolm Brownsword

EDITORIAL
A welcome week of sunshine has led my thoughts to summer – and to picnics. In the early days of the Club, almost every outing of an afternoon ended in a picnic. And with thoughts of picnics come thoughts of my favourite places. In my beloved Mendip hills, Charterhouse Nature Reserve takes pride of place. Situated at the source of a stream that runs down the delightful Velvet Bottom into the Cheddar Gorge, between the twisted landscape of ancient lead workings and banks of limestone flowers, it boasts a brilliant carpet of flowers in July and August. You can find a host of butterflies and moths, especially fritillaries and, if you are lucky, the little day-flying Sooty Carpetsweeper moth. A small pool attracts myriad dragonflies, damsels and other insects, with the occasional adder basking on the old slag heaps near the banks. I remember a WOFC outing to Cheddar with Peter Creed some years ago, when we walked down Velvet Bottom to look for the Cheddar Pink on the cliff-tops, then sat in the sunshine eating ice-creams (heavily) laced with liqueurs. One of many treasured Field Club moments.
Recently I visited a favourite local place, Juniper Valley near the Ridgeway, a place the Club has visited on occasion. Strangely, although all my visits there have been pre-planned, each one has been on a blazing hot sunny day. This time it was to count Pasque-flowers. Simple enough, you might think, but not when most of them are but tiny tufts of filigree leaves an inch or so in height. In full summer the valley is a real sun-trap, and a great butterfly spot. At the far end, a pair of stone curlews had already arrived to breed. One of my earliest childhood memories is lying on my back at the summit of Dunkery Beacon, the highest point on Exmoor, squinting into the sunlight to watch a skylark singing high above. It is warming on a cold, grey winter’s day to drift back in time and sit in a favourite wild place and allow the senses to remember the warmth of sun on skin, the caress of a soft breeze, the feel of rough turf below, the sound of birds above and insects all around, and the smell of wildflowers. The variety of trips on offer with WOFC this summer may well lead some of us to discover new favourite places.
The resident song thrush is already incubating in a nest in my climbing hydrangea. The male has a quite striking song, unlike any other song thrush I have heard. Some of the phrases are quite complex melodies, almost as if it has learned them from a human record of a flute or oboe, and the repeats of different phrases are strung together in a distinct pattern. I recently read a BBC news item on new research into the dialects of humpback whale songs. It seems wandering lone males pass them on to new populations, who perhaps copy them badly or mix in something of their own, so the songs change slightly as they progress round the oceans, rather like Chinese whispers. In just two years, a new song was heard to spread from the east coast of Australia 6000 km across the Pacific to French Polynesia. The whales use the songs to attract females, perhaps rather like different singers use new pop songs or different variations of the same song to attract an audience. Like the song of the thrush, whale songs are also made up of different phrases repeated in a particular pattern. I wonder if certain whales are particularly good composers, and whether the females are impressed more by the originality of the song, or by the skill of the singer. Either way, impressive singers’ genes are more likely to be passed on to the next generation. Birds, too, have distinct dialects, both between and within populations. There is a delightful Zen parable: ‘if you listen to a thrush, you have not really heard the thrush, but if you listen to a thrush and hear a miracle, then you have heard the thrush’.
Speaking of migration, the strange weather last autumn led to what appeared to be an abortive breeding migration of the local toads. Following a cool spell, followed by a very warm, damp couple of days, the local roads were splattered with toads.
One of my neighbours has an infra-red camera that records short video clips when triggered. Just before Christmas he set it up near a local ditch, and on the very first night an otter waded out of the ditch and peered at the camera. Otters have recovered from near extinction 30 years ago to be found in every county except Kent. Shy and secretive, and to some extent nocturnal creatures, few people notice their existence. Another unexpected visitor was a grey heron, regularly seen stalking the ditch in the middle of the night. Looking for reports of this behaviour on the Internet, I could find very few, and these were only of herons in estuarine areas where they may be taking advantage of a late tide. Perhaps there are few records because nobody has watched them at night. Has anyone else seen a night-hunting English heron? Some exotic species, called night herons, do usually hunt at night, but they are stockier birds, with shorter necks and legs.
The Field Club has wandered mainly over the Cotswolds this winter, with birding trips to Witney Lakes and the Cotswold Water Park, and further afield to College Lake in March, where the first chiffchaff was heard. The autumn walks to Aston Rowant, Adlestrop and Dylesford, and to Sapperton and Daneway, provided more wildflowers, especially the latter. On 16 October there were still plenty of flowers blooming, including rock roses, meadow crane’s-bill and pignut, and we found some interesting fungi. A more sheltered trip was to the Nature in Art exhibition near Gloucester, to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year collection.
The talks have ranged more widely, from red kites in the Chilterns to wildflowers of Teesdale and Corsica. We had talks on beekeeping and bird boxes and on the landscapes and habitats of Oxfordshire – a talk that gave us lots of new ideas for places to visit. The last of the series, on frog-hunting in Australia, is yet to come. We enjoyed our Christmas dinner at the George and Dragon, Long Hanborough, and now look forward to the Summer Party there.

Jill Bailey

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

The 48th Annual General Meeting of the West Oxfordshire Field Club was held at the Witney Methodist Church, High Street, Witney on 4 March 2011. The meeting was opened by Graham Wren, our President.


Apologies for absence These were received from John Dunlop, Brenda Betteridge and Mr and Mrs Elvin.
Matters arising There were no matters arising and the minutes of the 47th AGM were accepted as a true record and signed by Graham Wren. This was proposed by Ann Dossett-Davies and seconded by Jill Bailey.


Treasurer’s Report presented by Tony Florey. The accounts remain in credit and therefore there will not be an increase in subscriptions. Coffee money, which this year amounted to £54.40, will stay in the funds and not be passed on to BBOWT as before. There is £544.50 in the bank. The report was accepted and proposed by Tony Mattingley, seconded by Margaret Edwards. The position of auditor has been taken by Mr Gardener. This was accepted and proposed by Yvonne Townsend, seconded by Jean Kenworthy.


Chairman’s Report presented by Sue Morton. This was a summary of the walks and trips made over the past year with special mention of the bad weather which led to the postponement of the Members’ Night meeting. The chairman thanked David Roberts and Tony Mattingley for planning and leading walks and Yvonne Townsend for arranging the trips away and our Summer and Christmas parties.
Election of the committee. As all members are willing to stand again the Committee was elected en bloc. This was proposed by Margaret Edwards and seconded by Gillian Oldfield.


There was no other business and the meeting was closed.
The evening continued after coffee with a superb talk by Graham Wren on nest boxes. There were some wonderful camera shots from inside the nests showing how they were built and the differences in the ways the young are cared for. This talk was well worth waiting for – originally it had been planned to follow last year’s AGM but was replaced by the postponed Member’s Night activities that evening.
Gill Suida


YOUR COMMITTEE
Tony Mattingley, who has done stirling service as our Walks Programme Secretary for a number of years, is stepping down and Mary Elford has kindly agreed to take over from him. Her title will be Walks Programme Coordinator, which we felt more accurately describes her role. Tony will remain on the committee, and we would like to thank him for all his hard work on the walks programme over the years. I am sure that Mary will prove to be a worthy successor.
Now that we have some decent weather at last, I look forward to seeing members out and about on the many interesting walks that we have lined up for you this summer.
Sue Morton

YOUR NEWSLETTER

Thank you all of you who have contributed to this issue, especially Jill who has written yet another interesting editorial.
Please send me reports of walks and other club activities for inclusion in the Autumn 2011 newsletter by the end of August 2011 by e-mail or written clearly on paper by snail-mail to the address given on the programme. Don’t forget we also like to include observations and experiences of the natural world you have that you would like to share with other members.

Erratum: In Newsletter 92 (Autumn2010) in the report of our visit to Upper Teesdale, Globeflower (Trollius europaeus) was missing from the list of flowering plants recorded.

Brenda Betteridge (Newsletter Editor)
E-mail: bbetteridge@phonecoop.coop


REPORTS OF FIELD MEETINGS

Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve 12 September 2010
Six of us met up at the Cowleaze car park on a sunny but breezy afternoon. We initially visited Bald Hill, an area of steep, south-facing, grazed flower-rich chalk grassland with mixed scrub. The grass is kept short by grazing Beulah sheep, feral goats and rabbits, and is dotted with ant hills. Apparently, there are around 100,000 ant hills on the reserve. Beneath the trees on the fringe of Bald Hill we saw hundreds of toadstools, mainly those of the Blusher species. Within minutes of walking the grassy areas between the scrub we encountered lots of Eyebright, a clump of Marjoram still in flower, and then clusters of Chiltern Gentian, so many that we had to be careful not to tread on them. It wasn’t long before a Red Kite passed over, one of several seen, and this one spent most of the time we were there gliding below us over the vivid green valley floor between our vantage point and Shirburn Hill opposite. Later, a Kestrel, which was also using the valley to hunt, saw-off a Buzzard, diving at it time after time. A small flight of Swallows flew by quite low, not lingering to catch aerial insect food, but hurried and moving directly southwards – a good example of ‘vismig’, or visible migration, to use an in-vogue term. Later, we walked part way to Linky Down, another part of the reserve, before returning to the car park.

Flowers:
Eyebright Marjoram Chiltern Gentian Black Knapweed
Field Scabious Small Scabious Harebell Hawkbit
Wild Thyme Wild Basil Dwarf Thistle Carline Thistle
Common Centaury Common Milkwort Tormantil Agrimony
Wild Mignonette Lady’s Bedstraw Common Rock-rose Red Clover
White Clover Red Bartsia Common Ragwort Herb Robert

Shrubs:
Honeysuckle Wild Privet Buckthorn Dogwood
Elder Whitebeam Crab Apple Blackthorn
Hawthorn Field Maple Bramble Dog Rose

Butterflies:
Small Heath Meadow Brown Speckled Wood

Birds:
Red Kite Kestrel Buzzard Long-tailed Tit Swallow
Carrion Crow Rook Jackdaw Blue Tit Great Tit

David Rolfe

Sapperton and Daneway 16 October 2010
History went hand in hand with natural history on our Sapperton and Daneway walk when eleven of us turned up for a lovely autumn walk in beautiful countryside with the leaves just starting to change colour.
Sapperton means ‘the home of the soap makers’, probably a reference to an ancient wool trade and linked with the occurrence locally of fuller’s earth, a special clay once used for fulling (cleaning) fleeces.
Sapperton was the base for a group of workers strongly influenced by William Morris, founder of the Arts and Crafts Movement – men such as Ernest Gimson and brothers Ernest and Sidney Barnsley are buried in the churchyard. Norman Jewson worked and died here. Other famous people such as Sir Stafford Cripps are buried in Sapperton Cemetery. John Masefield, the poet, lived for a time at Pinbury Park, a property we saw on the walk.
Our walk went past the Daneway end of Sapperton Tunnel, through which the Thames and Severn Canal flowed. Completed in 1789 the tunnel is 2.17 miles long and burrows under the highest part of the Cotswold Hills, at its deepest point is 70 yards below ground and at that time was the longest tunnel ever dug in England. Sadly the canal was abandoned in 1927 but there is movement afoot to open it up once again to enable the Severn to be rejoined with the Thames.
The walk took in Daneway Banks Nature Reserve managed by the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and one of the most striking features here is the number of large ant hills. These are made by the Yellow Meadow Ant and on some grassland areas can reach up to 1 metre high. In some parts of Gloucestershire the hills are known as ‘emmet casts’ with ‘emmet’ being the old English word for ant. Over 30 species of butterfly can be seen on this site, including Green Hairstreak, Dark Green Fritillary and the re-introduced Large Blue. This last one, a light steely-blue butterfly was much prized by early butterfly collectors. It was lost from the British countryside, being finally declared extinct in 1979. The Large Blue was always a rare butterfly, with only about ninety known sites, and its decline was hastened by agricultural improvement, the abandonment of grazing and a lack of knowledge about the species’ close relationship with the Red Ant. A few years after its extinction in Britain, when much more was known about its life history, the Large Blue was re-introduced using butterflies from Sweden. It is now established on more than eight sites between the Cotswolds and South Devon.
The life cycle of this butterfly is complex and depends on a number of factors. The female will only lay her eggs on Wild Thyme and occasionally Wild Marjoram, between mid June and mid July. Once the eggs hatch the larvae will feed on the plant before dropping to the ground. They will then put on a display by lifting up one end and releasing a secretion, which stimulates a number of species of Red Ant into thinking that the larvae are their own. The ant will take the larvae to its nest where it will happily spend the winter feeding on the unsuspecting ant larvae. In mid-June the adult butterfly will emerge and the cycle begins again.

Flowers recorded:
Bramble Meadow Crane’s-bill Old Man’s Beard
Hawkbit (various) Daisy Meadow Buttercup
Yarrow Tufted Vetch Common Dandelion
Red Dead-nettle Red Clover Herb Robert
Wood Avens Red Campion Pignut
Greater Knapweed Perforate St John’s-wort Common Ragwort
Field Scabious Black Medick Wild Basil
Common Field Speedwell Shepherd’s Purse White Dead-nettle
Musk Mallow Groundsel Ivy
Hedge Bindweed Selfheal Harebell
Wild Marjoram Common Milkwort Wood Sage
Common Rock-rose Common Chickweed Field forget-me-not
Hogwood Ivy-leaved Toadflax Meadowsweet
Small Teasel (Dipsacus pilosus) seed head

Fungi recorded:
Bracket Fungus Ochre Brittlegill Blackening Brittlegill Shaggy Parasol
(and several others but too difficult to identify)

Birds seen:
Great Spotted Woodpecker Robin Jackdaw Wren Mallard
Great Tit Moorhen Long-tailed Tit Rook
Pied Wagtail Carrion Crow Chaffinch Wood Pigeon
Goldfinch Blue Tit Magpie Blackbird
David Roberts

Adlestrop and Daylesford 2 October 2010
On a dry and mainly sunny afternoon eleven of us set out from Adlestrop village hall car park on a circular walk of approximately 3 miles, which was fairly level for most of the way. This took us along quiet roads and field paths, much of which was through the Daylesford estate.
Leaving the car park we turned left to reach the shelter containing the old ‘Adlestrop’ railway station name board and a plaque on a (platform?) seat on which was inscribed Edward Thomas’s famous poem ‘I remember Adlestrop’.
We later took the left fork and climbed steadily for about 300 yards to reach a footpath, which turned into woodland, where fallen horse chestnuts and beechmast were plentiful, and the first of the autumn colours was just beginning to show. We also stopped to look at tree fungi and a large badger sett.
Leaving the wood we crossed the busy A436 and entered the pristine Daylesford estate where, from the pathway through the estate, we admired the fine views towards Icomb and Stow on the Wold.
Passing through the estate with its paddocks of thoroughbred horses, the stables and various farm and horticultural buildings, there was a wide variety of trees of interest, following which we dropped down to Daylesford. From here it is easy roadside walking (with hedgerows full of blackberries and other autumn fruits) until we once again crossed the A436 into pastureland, along the perimeter of the village cricket pitch, and a short walk through the village of Adlestrop and back to the car park.

Hedgerow Other plants in flower: Birds seen/heard (H):
plants: Common Mallow Nuthatch (H) House Sparrow
Blackberry Herb Robert Mistle Thrush Pied Wagtail
Dog Rose Field Scabious Wood Pigeons Crows
Spindleberry Yarrow Great Tit (H) Lesser Black-backed Gulls
Snowberry Buzzard (H) Great Spotted Woodpecker (H)
Holly Fungi: Rooks Green Woodpecker (H)
Old Man’s Beard
White Coralled Fungus Robin Herring Gulls
Purple Stocking Wet Cap

Note:

Edward Thomas is said not to have left the train that stopped briefly at Adlestrop Station just before the First World War, but what he saw resulted in one of the best known of English poems. I thought it might be interesting to include a couple of verses of his sentiments.

Yes, I remember Adlestrop –
The name, because one afternoon
Of heat the express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.

And willows, willow-herb, and grass,
And meadowsweet, and haycocks dry,
No whit less still and lonely fair
Than the high cloudlets in the sky.
Tony Mattingley

Widford 7 November 2010
Nine members joined me on a chilly Sunday morning for this pleasant walk, starting from the bridge over the river Windrush and heading round in a circle via Swinbrook village. I was pleased to see my first Redwings and Fieldfares of the autumn, blown in on a very sharp wind. We mostly saw birds on our walk, with a very few flowers still hanging on. On the way round we were invited in to see Malcolm Hudsons’s racing pigeons, sleek thoroughbred birds, a world away from their scruffy feral cousins.


Birds: Robin Great Spotted Woodpecker Heron Mammal:
Redwings Carrion Crow Greenfinch Mallard Rabbit
Fieldfares Pheasant Green Woodpecker Moorhen
Mute swan Starlings Buzzard Greylag geese Flowers:
Blue Tit Pied Wagtail Dunnock Rook Yarrow
Great Tit Wood Pigeon Magpie Greater knapweed
Red clover
Sue Morton

Witney Lakes and River Windrush 12 December 2010
Eight of us had an enjoyable winter walk on a Sunday morning, all swathed in warm clothes against the cold.
This is a gentle walk on almost all crushed gravel paths, so easy walking. We passed the derelict Farm Mill which, at long last, is being turned into six apartments. For years we had heard that ot was going to be a restaurant but plans were changed. This will be a magnificent place to live when the apartments are completed. The mill stream still runs under the building but there is no machinery left.
A Little Egret was spotted as we got to the lake path itself. Then a couple of Cormorants flew overhead. Other birds seen were a flock of Long-tailed Tits. Many of the common water birds were evident – waiting to be fed in the corner of the lake not frozen over. A female Ruddy Duck with a blue bill and stiff tail was there also. These ducks are being officially culled nationally to prevent their interbreeding with the Spanish white-headed ducks which are not plentiful. Ruddy ducks were ornamental introductions from America and have spread enormously.
There were plenty of dog walkers in evidence round the lake, including a lady with four Sussex spaniels, a breed I have never seen before. They were very dark milk chocolate in colour and bred with somewhat shorted legs than Springer spaniels. To a dog lover, most interesting. These dogs are shown at Crufts.
This was only a short walk, taking about 1 hour 40 minutes, enough to get the circulation going.
Tony Florey

Nature in Art, Twigworth, near Gloucester 27 January 2011
Eleven members and two guests visited Nature in Art to see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition fresh from it’s launch at the Natural History Museum in London. This highly prestigious exhibition contained over 100 entries from more than 80 countries and the standard of photography was amazing, especially from the winners of the junior section.
The coveted title of ‘Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ this year was awarded to a Hungarian, Bence Mate, with his striking image of leaf-cutter ants in the Costa Rican rainforest.
The ‘Young Wildlife Photographer of the Year’ was awarded to a young man from Perthshire named Fergus Gill with his marvellous image entitled ‘The frozen moment’ which captured a hovering fieldfare picking berries. This is the second year running that Fergus has won the junior section and must surely be a name to look for in future as an adult. These are two winners that are mentioned from many others who were so good, but are too numerous to highlight, but they all contributed towards a most enjoyable Field Club day out.
Tony Mattingley

PS. Nature in Art is the world’s first museum dedicated exclusively to fine, decorative and applied art inspired by nature. It is housed in a fine Georgian mansion, Wallsworth Hall, dating from the mid 1700s, which is approached along a long winding drive. This was my first visit to Nature in Art and, was pleasantly surprised by what I saw there. It was a wonderful venue for a Field Club meeting on what was a cold miserable day. Some of us braved a quick look round the statues in the garden – not the best time of year to see them in what will be a very attractive setting later in the year. We appreciated the cafe where we had a delicious lunch when we arrived and tea and cakes before we went home.
Brenda


Cotswold Water Park and Welford Pools Nature Reserve 12 February 2011
Cotswold Water Park

It was a fine sunny morning when ten members and one guest met at the Cotswold Water Park Visitors Centre where, after a welcome coffee, we set off for lakes 42 and 43, as we understood that Smew had been sighted there previously and many of us were keen to see them. However, we were to be disappointed as there was no sigh of them on this occasion.
These handsome winter visitors (November–March) migrate from their breeding grounds in Scandinavia and Russia when the lakes freeze over, but this year found the same problem on the Water Park lakes; therefore their natural food of fish, molluscs and crustaceans was unavailable and they obviously had to seek sustenance elsewhere.
Nonetheless we did have good sightings of other waterfowl, notably Red-breasted Mergan\ers, Goosander, Golden Eye, Pochard, Shovellers and Gadwall. Little Egrets were also seen. More common birds were Coots, Moorhen, Great-crested Grebe, Tufted Duck and Herons.
Whelford Pools Nature Reserve
Later in the day we briefly called in at whelford Pools, which is also within the greater confines of the Cotswold Water Park, but there were very few wildfowl to be seen there. So we decided to call it a day and make our various ways home
.
Other birds seen/heard:
Cotswold Water Park Welford Pools
Buzzard Crows Black-headed Gull Mallard
Blue Tit Rooks Mallard Gadwall
Great Tit Magpie Cormorant Heron
Green Woodpecker Mute Swan Shelduck Tufted Duck
Long-tailed Tit Moorhen

Tony Mattingley


College Lake 27 March 2011
On a gloriously sunny spring afternoon, 15 of us met in the new Visitor Centre at this BBOWT reserve and, after a quick look round it, made our way to one of the many bird-watching hides which overlook the two large areas of water. Tufted Ducks, Teals, Wigeons and Shovelers were swimming around on the water, while Lapwings, Common Redshanks and a couple of Oystercatchers sat and preened on the islands. Soon, a Ruff was spotted making its way along the causeway between the two lakes. Later on, another Ruff was seen at the water’s edge, along with two Common Snipe. Just outside an open viewing window of the Octagon Hide, situated at the northern end of the causeway, a pair of Canada Geese loudly chided those of us inside watching their courting. While we were moving on from one hide to another, a newly arrived migrant Chiffchaff sang from high up in a silver birch, confirmation that spring had indeed arrived.

Birds seen or heard (H):
Canada Goose Carrion Crow Woodpigeon Snipe Coot
Shoveler Wigeon Starling Chiffchaff (H) Redshank
Lapwing Tufted Duck Teal Chaffinch Blackbird
Black-headed Gull Ruff Moorhen Mallard Goldfinch

David Rolfe

OBITUARIES

Catherine Ross 1929–2010

Catherine sadly passed away on 3 October 2010 in a nursing home in Bampton. She was a member of the West Oxfordshire Field Club from 1968 right up to 2008. Early on in her membership she served on the committee and produced the newsletter for many years before resigning in 1983. She was a very keen birdwatcher indeed and, for many years, ending in 1990, she led the Dawn Chorus meeting for the Club. Catherine became very much involved with the British Trust for Ornithology and was their regional representative for a long period, taking on the organization of the Wetland Bird Survey (wildfowl counts).
Catherine, the daughter of a bank manager in London, came up to Oxford to read Classics at Lady Margaret Hall. After graduation her love of the countryside led to a change of direction through an agricultural course and a spell as a resident in East Africa. She returned to Oxford, settling in Sutton, near Stanton Harcourt, with her young son Andrew, but with a broken marriage she found employment in the Classics Department of Oxford University.


© Tony Florey

She was a very active person and skied on the Downs whenever there was enough snow. I remember, many years ago, going with her to the Cairngorms cross-country skiing – a very strenuous form of exercise!

Tony Florey

Millie Hunt 1915–2011
Millie Hunt was famous locally for her garden at Hill Green in Shilton. She took great interest in cultivating a mixture of wild flowers and traditional cottage garden varieties to form a unique blend of colour throughout the season. Her garden was featured on BBC in the Geoff Hamilton Paradise Garden series during the 1990s when both Millie and her late husband, Horace, explained their gardening practices to Geoff while seated under the large walnut tree in the top garden, Horace’s vegetable garden.


Born Millicent Nora Gardner at Elm Farm, Shilton, on 12 December 1915, Millie grew up on the village farms and was educated in the village school which is now the Old School Village Hall. She was 12 years old before she left Shilton for a day trip to Burford. In later life she became well known in Burford when selling flowers and garden produce on the WI stall under the Tolsey.


© Tony Florey
Millie talking to members before leading one of her walks on Shilton Airfield

Millie and her elder sister married two brothers. Horace Hunt, Millie’s husband, was a local dry stone waller and a competent gardener. Together they converted Hill Green from a farm yard into Millie’s most interesting flower garden and Horace’s immaculately tidy, orderly and weed-free vegetable garden. These two gardens featured many times in various local and national magazines culminating in star billing in the Geoff Hamilton gardening programmes.
Millie was a staunch defender of wildlife and was known as the person to whom you took an injured bird if you found one. One of her successes was a skylark for which she made a nest on the floor of her back kitchen. It used to sing to her all day long to her great enjoyment but one day a window was left ajar and a cat got in and killed her lark.
Being a lover of wildlife it was natural for Millie to join the Field Club (she was a member from 1976 to 2005). While an active member, several times she shared a favourite haunt of hers – the disused Shilton Airfield where some delightful calcareous grassland habitats had developed, which in the summer were alive with butterflies and other insects. A special treat at the end of the walk was a
conducted tour round her garden! Some of the articles she wrote for her local parish magazine about wildlife were reproduced in the WOFC newsletter.
Millie was also a staunch defender of village life. She served on the parish council for 35 years. Many features of Shilton are legacies of Millie’s endeavours: wildlife habitats in the form of bushes and long grass on the bank and, notably, the Old School Village Hall when she was prominent among the campaigners to prevent its sale as a house and to buy it for village use; it is now a thriving village asset and invaluable. Millie was also a great supporter of Christian tradition as the soul of the village and excelled at flower arranging for the local church.
Millie retired from the parish council in 1999 but continued to garden and open Hill Green, both for the annual Shilton Gardens Open Day and at other times until her 90th year. She entered the local care home a few months before her 90th birthday and died on Sunday 17 April 2011 in Tall Trees, Shipton-under-Wychwood.
Derek Cotterill


Philip Best 1929–2010
As a Headmaster of local schools or as Church Warden of Ducklington Church for several years, Philip revealed himself to be a loyal Christian and so placid all the while whatever or whoever he was involved with. He was happily married to Freda who cared for him so well, especially during his final illness, and together they cherished their lovely home and garden, offering genuine friendship and hospitality to so many, finding the West Oxfordshire Field Club membership to share in conservation and the welfare of both flora and fauna. (Philip was a member from 1971 to 2010.).
Philip was a splendid artist, producing so many scenes of the locality, and an architechtural historian, specializing in the long history of Ducklington village and St Bartholomew’s Church in particular, so fortunately for us and future generations his contributions will be there still to interest and inform us about people and things worthwhile. So much else could be attributed to Philip and we thank God for him.

Rev. J. H. Cook

Instead of a photo of Philip, examples of his work are reproduced here courtesy of Yvonne Townsend.


Other newsletters -94 93 92 91 90 89 88 87 86

 
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