Muntjac, 16 ducklings and fox cubs!
(Click images to enlarge)
The hog weed, stinging nettles and Himalayan balsam are around seven feet tall in the wood alongside Hoo Brook. Each week it gets more difficult to see the wildlife, let alone photograph it. On the west side of North Pond, the grass, reeds and other plant life are just above four feet high, and around two feet high tall on the east side? It’s the pheasants and rabbits I see most often on the pasture lately – most of the grass is not yet tall enough to hide a standing pheasant. The north pasture is a favourite haunt of green and great spotted woodpeckers; I often see them darting amongst the trees and bushes, or on their way up to Hoo wood, or flying across the Stour to the island.
A heron lifted off from North Pond – it’s was a large, majestic bird. Two mallard hens were on the pond, too, with 16 ducklings swimming around them. This is nature at its best. One minute you’re a little dismayed at the loss of eight cute ducklings to predators, and the next minute they are replaced by 16 ducklings from somewhere else – wonderful! A drake was chancing his luck with the hens, but they were having none of it; there followed a lot of angry quacking, wing beating, and splashing as the hens fought him tooth and nail until he eventually gave up and flew off in disgust. I don’t think it will take the owls long to make a dent in the North Pond duckling population. The duckling antics are fascinating, especially their technique for catching flying insects; they jump clear of the water and pluck them from the air. They are amazingly fast swimmers, and make use of the whole pond. When mother duck thinks the pond is safe, she gives the command and the ducklings race across the pond in all directions.
I saw two fox cubs playing outside their summer den. They scattered as soon as they caught my scent. The marsh wind is usually blowing in a north-westerly direction and, most of the time, I am passing east of the summer den when I am walking home. I will have to approach the den from the north to stand any chance of stealing decent images of the cubs.
I turned a track corner, just as the light was fading, and came face-to-face with a grazing muntjac deer. Fortunately, I had seen it before it had seen me with my camera.