News - Page 6

Just Six Days of an Ornithological Christmas



Jean Powley

The popular carol known as “The Twelve Days of Christmas” includes six species of birds as gifts. Here are just a few short notes about the birds included in the carol but first, let’s look in to the origins of the song. One theory is that it was once a catechism song for young Catholics. Between 1558 and 1829 Roman Catholics were not permitted to practise their faith, openly and this song, it was thought, helped them to learn the tenets of their faith. However, the first publication of the carol was not until 1780 in a book entitled “Mirth without Mischief.”  The “true love” of the carol is God.

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a Partridge in a pear tree. The Partridge represents Jesus Christ. In the UK we have two species of partridges. There is the Grey or English Partridge and the Red-legged or French Partridge. The more colourful red-legged Partridge was introduced in to England mainly around the 1770’s. They may be found in lowland arable areas and to come across a Grey Partridge is now very rare. If you see a Partridge it is more likely to be the Red-legged species. It would also be most unusual to find any partridge in a tree as they are ground-dwelling birds.

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two Turtle Doves. The two Turtle Doves represent the Old and the New Testament. The Turtle Dove is a summer migrant and is mostly found in the southern and eastern part of Britain. It is a very dainty dove, being smaller in size to the Collared Dove. It makes a gentle purring sound. The Turtle Dove symbolises love, devotion and faithfulness as they mate for life, work together to make their nests and both help to raise their young.

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me three French Hens. The three French hens represent faith, hope and love. You will not find a French Hen in a bird guide so it may be assumed that the song refers to a breed of French hen, possibly the Faverolle. This breed came from north central France and is now mainly kept for exhibiting and/or commonly kept as a pet. They are very good egg layers.

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me four colly birds.The four colly birds represent the four gospels.  Is it colly or calling? Both adjectives are used. The word colly means ‘black’ taken from the word colliery meaning coal mine. Colly was actually used before the word calling, and the latter is believed to be an Americanism. It could refer to any black coloured bird but is commonly accepted to be the Blackbird, one of our most common garden birds.

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me six geese a laying. The six geese represent the six days of creation. The most common geese we see in the UK are Greylags and Canada Geese.   During winter, however, we have visits from other species which come from Iceland, Greenland and Scandinavia. They are Pink-footed, Bean, and White-fronted Geese. The black and white Barnacle Goose comes from Svalbard in the High Arctic.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me seven swans a swimming. The seven swans represent the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Our resident swan is the Mute Swan and in winter we have two species of Swans which migrate from the Arctic tundra. They are the Bewick’s and Whooper Swans. These two species occasionally visit certain parts of Nottinghamshire but many can be found in the reserves belonging to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT).

Jean is a voluntary Ambassador for the British Trust for Ornithology’s Garden BirdWatch scheme in Nottinghamshire. If you enjoy watching birds and other wildlife which visit your garden, Garden BirdWatch may be perfect for you. If you would like a free information pack about the scheme, contact Jean at or visit


The W.I. Meeting that took place on Monday, 20th November. The talk  “Entertaining poetry,” given by ‘Voice Versa,’ was highly entertaining. The Competition, entitled “A Book of Poetry,” was most interesting, especially the many books of poetry, including some very old ones, produced  by members.

The W.I. Meeting for December will take place on Monday, 18th December at the Village Hall. The topic for December will be “Fifty Shades of Graham,” a wry and only slightly risqué humour given by Graham Keal. The competition for December will be “A naughty postcard.”

The Centenary Friendship Group continues to be held on the first Tuesday of every month between 2.00pm — 4.00pm at “The Institute,” Roe Lane, including activities and refreshments.

The December Walk — “The Gedling Park Walk” — will be held on Monday 4th December — meeting at the Village Hall at 10.00am with cars; there will, however, be a car-share.

The December Committee Meeting will be held on Monday, 11th December at 2.00pm at Catherine Jones’.

The W.I. Christmas Lunch will be on Tuesday, 12th December at 12.30pm It will be at The Magna Charta, Lowdham. Two courses at £12.99 or three courses at £15.99. We are requesting a £5 deposit for this payable at the next W.I. Meeting, 20th November.

Woodborough W.I. Meetings are held at the Village Hall at 7:30pm on the third Monday of each month. Visitors and new members are most welcome. For further details contact Jenny on (0115) 965 4186.

Christmas Poems


Jean Cave


Christmas Memories

When everything was right,

Food filled the kitchen

And the fire burned bright.

Snow fell outside the door

And laced our Christmas tree

Where our family sang carols,

What better place to be!


But what is Christmas all about?

We can all have our say,

Some believe in Jesus Christ

While others turn away.

Whatever your reason

To celebrate this year,

Give a thought to someone else

And spread a little cheer!


Deep Down Within

Branches are bare,

leaves are all gone,

No sign of life,

The visible one.

But we all know it's there

Deep down within,

Year after year we

See new life begin.

What more reassurance,

What more do we need

Than the knowledge that

Springtime is frozen in seed!

So wrap up this Christmas

And keep safe and warm.

Enjoy your celebrations

Whatever their form.

And remember When Icicles

Point to the ground,

That seasons do change

As our world spins around.

It’s been a busy and exciting time at Salterford House this Autumn. The children have been making the most of the outdoors area and enjoying the changing season with Year 6 creating poetry in the October sunshine and Year 3 have even been dragon hunting a part of their English topic.

The whole school celebrated Bonfire Night with a spectacular display of fireworks. It was a real crowd-pleaser again this year with hundreds of parents and pupils, current and past, enjoying the fireworks, hot dogs and many stalls on offer.

One of the highlights for the Key Stage 2 children was the outdoors extended day that took place at the beginning of November. Children from Yrs 3-6 spent the day in the woodland, creating works of art and completing science investigations which included making catapults and helicopters!

They chose a tree and dressed it for winter as part of the Charter for trees, woods and people project. The charter is designed to connect people with trees and help them understand the vital part trees play in our lives.

The day culminated in a campfire meal and song session and a night walk in the dark! The children had an amazing time and learned so much while benefiting from fresh air and wide open spaces.

The Annual Remembrance Assembly was a very moving, yet uplifting service led by Year 6 pupils and attended by pupils and parents, which ended with every child in the school marking their personal remembrance by adding a poppy to the Remembrance Wreath.