Biodiversity Group: The Stoat

Creature of the Month:  The Stoat

Stoats have slim chestnut coloured bodies with lighter underparts and short black tipped tails. They are solitary and very territorial only coming together during the breeding season.  Although they mate during the summer the fertilised egg is not implanted until spring of the following year and the young are born 3 – 4 weeks later. The female raises the young alone often using old rabbit burrows which she lines with fur, grass and leaves.  The young do not open their eyes for the first 4 – 5 weeks.  By 12 weeks they are fully independent and able to kill their own prey but may well stay in their family group for some time hunting and playing together.  When hunting stoats may travel as far as 5 miles and reach speeds of 20mph.  They are fierce predators killing animals much larger than themselves.  Often when approaching a group of prey animals they will leap, spin and twist gradually getting closer to the transfixed prey. The next minute they pounce!  As their main food is rabbits the size of the stoat population depends on the abundance of rabbits although they do take other small mammals, birds, eggs, worms, large insects and carrion.  The main danger to the stoat is starvation in winter, predation by larger carnivores and being killed on the roads. Their average life span is 1½ years but they can live for up to 7 years.

Did You Know?

  • Baby stoats are called kittens and a group of stoats is called a caravan.
  • Stoats kill their prey with a bite to the back of the neck. If there is a surplus of food they will often break the neck of their prey instead so they can store it and presumably it will last longer.
  • Stoats communicate through scent and it is believed they can tell the sex, age and health of prey animals by their scent.
  • Ermine, the white winter coat of the stoat, used to be seen as a symbol of high status and was not only worn by royalty around Europe and Britain but also by Members of the House of Lords and academics of Oxford and Cambridge who saw it as a sign they were equal to nobility.

Aynho Long Walk 26th October 2017

What a difference a day makes. The overcast and drizzly weather did not put 17 walkers off this morning even though the change from yesterday was complete. We set off down Green Lane and at the bottom we took the track towards Charlton. The path in the next field was ploughed up so we followed the field edge and crossed the footbridge into the next field. All the fields were ploughed along this path so we continued round the field edges to the old stone pits. Once across those we came across a herd of curious cows but they made no attempt to approach us. From here we walked down through the village and took the path up towards Rainsborough Camp. More cows here but they did not approach either. We were soon walking along the ridge back to the pavilion and Dawn’s welcome refreshments. Good to see more people enjoying them today. 5.5 miles.

The Travelling Crib

Each year we have continued a tradition of sending ‘the Holy Family’ on a journey around our villages on their way to ‘the stable’.  This consists of a set of figures to create the nativity scene which we invite people (young or not so young) to host for a night. And hopefully as they visit that the host will receive a blessing in return. At a Special Benefice Service at 10am at Saint Michael Aynho, with help from the BFC, we will be blessing our Christmas Cribs and figures before they start their journeys around our villages on their way to our Christmas Crib services.

If you would like to host the ‘Holy Family’ please let me know (Simon 01869 810903) or have a word with your local church wardens or Carrie O’Regan (01280 702300).  There will also be lists put up in churches later with more information.

All we ask people to do is arrange to pass the crib onto the next family each day.

Church: PAC (Praise, Activities and Cake)

Remember, remember the 5th of November…. …………………Remember me when I am gone away.

We probably all have at one time or another commented on how time appears to go quicker now, especially as we get older.  A recent study suggests that our memory of time is punctuated with the old and the new. The more new experiences we have in our lives the longer time appears, as we have lots to fit in.  When we get older we often have fewer new experiences to mark our time sheets with and so time goes quicker.  Who knows, but one thing I remember from my child hood is the summer holiday club I went to and what I made there.

In our benefice we have had the benefit of over 20 years of summer holiday clubs for children to remember and we are very grateful for all who have helped over that period in so many ways, setting many happy and good memories into children’s and family’s minds.  The only sad part was that it only happened once a year.  But now that is all about to change with PAC.

PAC is a new monthly follow up or extension of the summer holiday club, but for all the family.  It will follow the tried and tested formula of the summer group, starting with a time of praise and story telling, then time for craft activities and then refreshments.  As Holiday Club follow on Group, doesn’t roll off the tongue, we thought we would use a shorter name that does what it says. And hence we have PAC

      PAC stands for :- Praise, Activities & Cake  following on the formula from the summer.

We will be holding a monthly session for one hour on the first Sunday of each month in the Reading

Rooms in Croughton.  We have decided on the Reading Rooms, because of the facilities that they can offer, Heating, Toilets, kitchen and space. There is also car parking available behind them which is a luxury at most of our churches.    Like the summer holiday club PAC is aimed at families with primary age children, but families with younger and older children are welcome as well.  We hope that a regular time and place will help people’s memory and form a brand new habit.  For your diaries here are the dates of the sessions until Easter. Looking forward to seeing you soon.

PAC   4pm-5pm   Croughton Reading Room

November 5th Advent/Light         December 3rd      Christingle                       January 7th Epiphany

February  4th  Pancakes               March      4th       Mothering Sunday

Recorded Music Society October Meeting

Douglas opened our new season with a programme of immense variety ranging from Mozart’s “Piano Concerto” to Peter, Paul & Mary. Verdi and Purcell restored the classical element with “Fiddler on the Roof” and “If I were a Rich Man” popping up in between. A Beethoven Sonata & Vivaldi’s “Concerto for Two Violins” brought the first half to an end.  A great DVD featuring one of the world’s finest violinists Maxim Vengeroy with Daniel Barenboim accompanying provided an excellent finale.                 Thank you Douglas.

Bob presented the ARMS Treasurer, Eleanor, with a bouquet of flowers to thank her for all her work as Treasurer of the group and everyone wished her well in her new home. We also welcomed two visitors to the evening.

Contact:  Bob Mann 810264


Aynho Long Walk 19th October 2017

It was a damp and misty Autumn morning so it was a pleasant surprise to find thirteen walkers keen to set off. We crossed to the Portway path in the direction of Souldern. At the bottom of the field as we passed into the rising field ahead we were surprised to find that after years as pasture for sheep and cows it was now ploughed for planting. Fortunately it was not too muddy as yet. Our route continued across the fields to Wharf Lane and down to the canal. The water was very still and almost mirror like in its reflections. Only when we reached Aynho Wharf did we see a long boat cruising towards us. Two swans stood on the bank waiting for it to pass. We left the canal there and after passing over and under the railway bridges we took the track back under the motorway to the ford. The ford was still not under water so we crossed it easily and walked back up Millers Lane to the village.
Sadly Dawn’s wonderful refreshments had been neglected this week although there was a wide selection available.6.5 miles

Photographic Society: October 2017 Report

In October, we were treated to an inspiring presentation by Viveca Koh FRPS on ‘Phoneography to Fellowship: My Continuing Journey’.

The first half of the evening was devoted solely to ‘phoneography’. Viveca explained how the iPhone, or smartphone, has become her camera of choice for certain situations – perhaps where stealth is required or if a candid shot were not possible with a long lens. She described several iPhone apps that enhance the images and accompanied her talk with an excellent slide show.

In the second half of the evening, Viveca showed how she illustrated Star Blossom, a book of poems by her uncle, Fergus Chadwick, and which led to her FRPS distinction in 2014. Each poem evoked a different sense in her where she created wonderfully intricate and artistic images.

Viveca is a self-taught Fine Art photographer; her work is varied, covering many areas and genres, including the use of background textures and overlaying several images to great effect. She became interested in smartphone photography mainly because of its portability and unobtrusiveness. Its versatility in the special effects of apps such as Hipstamatic has taken this medium to a very high level, to specialise, for instance, in Urban Exploration (UrbEx) photography, collecting her material from abandoned and disused buildings, such as asylums, care homes, and schools.

Travelling from her home in Surrey, Viveca has visited our Society on two occasions to share her knowledge and passion. Her presentations are delivered with professionalism, humour, skill and modesty – it is always a pleasure to see Viveca and we look forward to seeing her here again very soon. You can see more on her website

The second Society Annual Photographic Exhibition will be on Saturday 28th October, 9.00am-1.00pm in the Living Room, Deddington Parish Church, same day as the Farmers’ Market – All welcome – Refreshments – Free Admission

On Wednesday 1 November, Robert Harvey will return to give a talk on ‘Winter Photography‘ at 7.30pm at the Christopher Rawlings School, 1 Aynho Road, Adderbury (by the traffic lights). Workshop and photoshoot details on

Wendy Meagher

Aynho Long Walk 12th October 2017

Only nine walkers set off down Green Lane in the sunshine this morning. The view across to Banbury and beyond was the prize we get for walking. We were soon passing Lower Walton Grounds Farm buildings and crossing the stream while Bandit had his usual wallow and shake. We climbed up to the copse which was amazingly dry and descended into Kings Sutton. Th funfair had gone as we crossed the green and followed the path around behind the village. There was a new herd of cows in the field we crossed near the station but they kept well away. The steep path up the hillside beside the station was drier than expected and the sunshine in the next large field was encouraging the removal of jackets. We intended to cross the field to the sewage works but it was freshly ploughed and chunky so we retraced our steps and took an alternative through some horse paddocks and emerged near the beehives opposite the Cemetery. From there we followed the track down to Lower Walton Grounds and climbed back to the village, emerging opposite Butts Close. 6.5 miles.

Aynho Long Walk 5th October 2017

Sixteen of us set out in lovely Autumn sunshine down Portway and across to Upper Aynho Grounds. As we walked down towards the woods we passed the herd of Red Pols with a group of lively calves enjoying the sunshine. In the woods we walked on a carpet of Autumn leaves although the trees still seemed mostly green. Up to Warren Farm and the Aberdeen Angus herd were also enjoying the sunshine. We continued down to Mill Lane and took the path along the back of the village to the church yard. From here we crossed the road and walked up to the path that took us through to the lane from the Charlton Road to Croughton. This road took us up to cut throat corner where we followed the track round the woods and came out opposite Camp Farm. We crossed the road and as we crossed the field next to Rainsborough Camp we appeared to be rounded up by a sheep dog. The sheep knew better though and did what was expected as the farmer came along behind us. We continued along the ridge, passed the mess left by the recent camper, and were glad to find the gate is now locked to vehicular traffic. Back at the pavilion we enjoyed Tracey’s lovely mince pies. We are still in need of someone to do the refreshments for us on a regular basis. We would love to come back to soup and jackets as winter creeps up on us.