How To Save A Fox’s Dinner

As is often the case on Wilden Marsh, the best way to see animal activity is to stop, look, and listen. This is exactly what I did one evening earlier this week, when walking through the Tenant Farmer’s Corridor towards the North Pasture. I heard a pheasant’s warning squawks nearby, and thought them likely due to the north marsh fox being out and about looking for his dinner. As if by magic, whilst opening the North Pasture gate, my eyes fell upon Red Dog’s head poking out of a bramble bush. The pheasant’s and the fox’s concentration was so focused on eachother that they paid me no heed. I closed and leant against the gate and settled down to watch the situation develop.

Each time Red Dog pushed his head out of the bramble bush, the pheasant’s squawking volume and pace increased to fever pitch. The squawking only eased when the fox retracted his head. Eventually, Red Dog gave up and walked nonchalantly away down the corridor, stopping once in a while to sniff the ground and air. As the distance between them increased, the squawking decreased correspondingly.

The north marsh fox looked forlorn as he walked passed me at the gate. His head hung low, almost scraping the ground, he stopped and looked back at me before sneaking a crafty glance at what could have been his dinner. I have to say that I felt sorry for the fox – it will soon be his mating season and he’ll need all the energy he can muster. The pheasant gave a half hearted squawk, and being aware of a pheasant glut on the marsh at the moment, I answered it. Red Dog slunk off into the depths of the Flooded Wood Pasture. The pheasant returned my squawk and I increased the shouting match until I heard the final throttled squawk as Red Dog’s jaws tightened on its neck….


 

 

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Clean Cool Water

The cattle wait their turn to drink at the water trough, after I break the ice this morning.

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A Frosty Morning On Wilden Marsh

Cattle have their own ways of communicating – no great surprise in that I suppose! The problem for me is understanding what they are trying to communicate. Leaning against the Tenant Farmers Field northern gate on Monday morning, I watched the cattle grazing way down at the southern end of the field. Normally when I arrive, the cattle come running. They glanced my way a few times so they knew I was there, but the herd wasn’t showing its usual enthusiasm. A man walked across the Rhombus Field and they knew he was there, too; they gave him a chorus of bellowing and moved slowly in his direction. He might have been checking the electricity pylon. Anyway, the cattle’s bellowing and interest in the chap was a bit lacklustre. The cattle are not happy, I thought. I walked over to the herd, but they moved away from me and sloped off towards the north gate. So I walked to the south gate and waited. One of the Galloways looked my way and let out a few bellows and began running towards me, quickly followed by the rest of the herd. They formed a semicircle around me at the gate and stood rooted to the spot staring at me. They are bored with this field, I thought. So I took them with me for the rest of my round. They danced, skipped, mooed and bellowed when I opened the gate and called them through.

Arriving in the south entrance riverside section, the cattle saw another herd on the west bank of the river. Well…the fuss they made was incredible. They bellowed and mooed as loudly as they were able: Belted every tooth, as my father would say. Wayne, the belted Galloway, bellowed like a mad thing in between turning his bare backside towards the other herd and lifted his tail. The herd on the other side of the river showed no emotion whatsoever. It struck me that the marsh herd originated in Scotland and Scottish folk have greeted the English similarly for millennia.

I shot this video this morning. Watch how my helper, Waynetta, gathers the stragglers.

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Sundown Over The Central Drainage Ditch and South Pool

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South Riverside Pasture

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Drinking Hole Or Swimming Pool

The small drinking hole I dug for the cattle in Hoo Brook Pasture has now grown into a swimming pool. The difference a day can make on the marsh can be dramatic. With plenty of drinking water available it’s time to get the cattle in, but I’m waiting for contractors to install a new gate to connect  this pasture with the new wildlife area first – hopefully, this will happen next week.

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Marsh Farm

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