Tuesday 28 May 2013

If you go down to the woods today...

OK, there's a few technical inaccuracies with the post title and the associated assumptions therein: I wasn't exactly in a wood; it wasn't today; there were no bears; no picnic occurred; and, I did believe my eyes, 'cos there's photographic proof.

But apart from that, it's spot on. Because. A certain because.

So whilst it wasn't a big surprise, it was mildly pleasing in a wildlife watching kind of way.

Which would obviously ruin the scansion, but hey, when did you ever tune in to Imperfect and Tense for faithful renditions of a 1932 children's song?

Really? You should get out more.

Anyway, the following took place on consecutive weekends in May, at the Hanson Environmental Study Centre, just down the road from Tense Towers.

Not so very long ago, when Our Lass and I were still struggling to find a single member of either the Zygoptera or Anisoptera with which to commence the 2013 flight season, we were bimbling through the reserve, noticing all manner of invertebrate life with the exception of dragons and damsels.

Loitering by a particularly interesting patch of Comfrey, we were roused from our bug reverie by  the sound of a large splash and a great deal of honking (as of a goose, rather than someone throwing up).

Aware that about 100 yards further along the path was a view across to the nest of a Canada Goose, and wondering what the heck was going on, we made haste to said spot. Rounding a bend in the track, we immediately spied the goose, stood over its nest and calling in a rather agitated fashion. The water which surrounded the small outcrop of land where the nest was built, was still showing signs of ripples from whatever had created the big splash.

I was musing upon which suspects would go up on the Scene of Crime Officer's wall, when Our Lass nudged me and excitedly whispered "Fox!"

Appearing out of the undergrowth, not far from the anxious Anatidae, was a healthy-looking Fox, who proceeded to head towards us along the track, apparently oblivious to our presence.

Photo courtesy of Our Lass

Photo courtesy of Our Lass

Eventually, some vulpine sense kicked in and we were rumbled, the would-be thief and goose-botherer melting into the undergrowth quicker than you could say "Look at the brush on that!"

Once things had quietened down, we left the goose in peace and wandered off to the Near Hide, where we were soon treated to some more entertainment courtesy of Reynard Productions. The Fox had found its way onto the bund and was busy searching the vegetation at the water's edge for any signs of nesting birds. It soon came to the attention of a pair of Lapwings, who took great delight in dive-bombing it, with accompanying alarm calls, until they had harried it into departing stage left.

Cut to the following weekend and, again, we were to be found at HESC, soaking up the Spring sunshine and basking in the glow of satisfaction at having now seen a dragon or two. Whilst JD (of Rotton Yarns fame) and I were talking to another wildlife watcher, Our Lass wandered off. When we set off again, she was nowhere to be seen. As we rounded a bend in the path, we spotted her, 50 yards up the track, gazing intently into the undergrowth. Turning to face us, Our Lass put a finger to her lips to warn us to be quiet. Intrigued as to what she might have found, I inquired by means of much arm waving as to whether it was a dragon (flaps outstretched arms) of perhaps a mammal (makes scrabbling paws motion). Our Lass shrugged an internationally understood shoulder movement, as if to ask what the heck I was on about. Patiently, and to the consternation of JD, I repeated my flapping and scrabbling message, which this time provoked a definite scrabbling response.

Turning to JD, I sternly intoned, "It's a Badger, don't ask how I know."

We crept up to join Our Lass, who was still watching a patch of thick vegetation consisting mainly of Comfrey and Nettles. The occasional movement of a leaf or plant was accompanied by a crunching sound, not unlike someone enjoying  a packet of crisps. I mean really enjoying a packet of crisps, none of this genteelly nibbling one at a time.

Now this was 4pm on a sunny afternoon, so JD was fairly convinced that it was a Rabbit chewing on a juicy stem. But Our Lass and I had experienced this particular noise before, perhaps twelve years previously, and not too far from this spot. We were in no doubt that it was a young Badger, presumably gorging upon snails. Unfortunately, the thick vegetation made it impossible to achieve anything like a decent confirmatory view, other the occasional glimpse of several square inches of rough grey fur, the proverbial Badger's arse. After patiently watching for fifteen minutes or so, we were rewarded with a flash of black and white stripes through the leaves. Case proven!

Eventually, Junior Brock had eaten his fill and disappeared further into the undergrowth, his course identified by the twitching of stems into the distance until all was still once more.


holdingmoments said...

A magical encounter.

I do hope Mr Front-bottom Paterson doesn't read this.

Imperfect and Tense said...

Suavely put!

Though I do think you should be more balanced in your viewpoint. Other gender genitalia descriptions are available :o)

Tales of a Bank Vole said...

Following the photographically illustrated tips above, I have spent the last three weeks disguised as a flowerpot man, but to no avail. I have not seen hide nor hair of fox or badger, although,I have received several comments re ggds as above.


Imperfect and Tense said...

You don't like the hat? I had assumed that it was the item of clothing that was the quintessential mammal magnet. I must now consider the possibility that my inference was incorrect.