The country-people, who are abroad in winter-mornings long before sun-rise, talk of much hard frost in some spots, & none in others. The reason of these partial frosts is obvious: for there are, at such times, partial fogs about: where the fog obtains little or no frost appears; but where the air is clear there it freezes hard. So the frost takes place either on the hill or in dale, where every the air happens to be clearest, & freest from vapour. Hyrn, cornu vel angulus: whence our Faringdon Hyrn, or hern as we pronounce it, is the corner-field of our parish. Heane, Humilis: hence perhaps our honey-lane. Our Gally-hill, is perhaps gallows hill from Galga, crux. Does not domesday book among other privileges, say that Priors & c. were allowed Furcas, gallows? By, habitation: from whence ye adjective Byn, as Binsted, &c. Deortun, saltus: hence no doubt our Dorton, a wild, bushy common just below the village: Deerton, a place where deer are kept. Eowod, Ovile: hence perhaps our field called the Ewel? Ymbhanger the winding hanger: we have places so named. Rode, crux: hence our Rode-green near the Priory, where probably a cross was erected. Fyrd, a ford; also a camp: hence probably our high common-field to the N.W. is called the fordown. Ether, sepes: the top border that binds down our hedges & keeps them together is called by our hedgers ether to this day: the wickering the top along they call ethering. Gouleins (Gothic) salutatio: hence perhaps our word Golly, a sort of jolly kind of oath, or asservation much in use among our carters, & lowest people. Eorthwicga, blatta terrana: hence our absurd word, not peculiar to this district: earwig.
On every sunny day the winter thro’, clouds of insects usually called gnats (I suppose tipulae & empedes) appear sporting & dancing over the tops of the ever-green trees in the shrubbery, & frisking about as if the business of generation was still going on. Hence it appears that these diptera (which by their sizes appear to be of different species) are not subject to a torpid state in the winter, as most winged Insects are. At night, & in frosty weather, & when it rains & blows they seem to retire into those trees. They often are out in a fog.
Fog on the hills. Spring-like, more like Feb: than Decr. Ravens in their common mode of flying have a peculiarity attending them not unworthy of notice; they turn-over in the air quite on their backs, & that not now & then, bur frequently; often every two or 300 yards. When this odd attitude betides them they fall down several fathoms, uttering a loud crow, & then right themselves again. This strange vacillation seems to be owing to their scratching when bitten by vermin– the thrusting-0ut of their leg destroys their equipoise, & throws their wings out of the true center of gravity. Ravens spend their leisure-time over some hanging wood in a sort of mock fight, dashing & diving at each other continually while their loud croakings make the woody steeps re-echo again.
Many species of flies come forth. Bats are out, & preying on phalaenae. The berries of Ivy, which blowed in the end of Sep: now half grown. A noble & providential supply for birds in winter & spring! for the first severe frost freezes, & spoils all the haws, sometimes by the middle of Novr. Ivy-berries do not seem to freeze. Large, grey, shell-less cellar snails lay themselves up about the same time with those that live abroad: hence it is plain that a defect of warmth alone is not the only causes that influences their retreat. The rudiments of the arbutus-fruit swell, & grow. Laurustines continue to blow.