R.I.P. Poncey.

Poncey and the Rabbit.

(Click on image to enlarge)

15th September 2011: I am hiding amongst trees at the north end of North Pond, settling down to a bit of watching and waiting – a fun thing to do, if you have the time. The evening light is beginning to fade. Something has spooked a cock pheasant at the far end of the line of trees that extend to the electricity pylon. This is where Poncey lives; he spends a lot of time close to that pylon, roosting in an oak tree. The pheasant’s squawking is getting louder as he closes in on my hiding place. He is flying low over the pond. He is turning towards an open area of ground to the east of the pond, close to the five-bar access gate to the lagoon field. This is one of Poncey’s favourite places. I watched him doing his courting there earlier in the year, and I have kept a close eye on him ever since. He could be found perched in his oak tree most evenings. He always made a hasty and noisy exit when he saw me approaching, though. Over time, I have managed to creep increasingly closer to his tree before he sees me.

Anyway, the pheasant, most likely it is Poncey, has landed in the area next to the five-bar-gate. I could see his head bobbing above the grass a few seconds ago, but I can’t see him at all now! I can hear him making a terrible noise, though. A noise I have heard many times on the marsh. Now everything is quiet. I quickly climb up the tree I was leaning against, to get a better view. I already have an inkling of what might be happening, and it’s just as I thought! Two marsh foxes are running off towards the lagoon field fence, one of them with the pheasant firmly clamped in its jaws. Poncey’s head is flopping about all over the place. The fox carrying Poncey is scrabbling under the fence. The second fox is already on the lagoon side and quickly snatches the bird from the other fox’s mouth. They are now running to Withy Wood, where they will eat poor old Poncey. The marsh foxes obviously find that hunting as a pair works well for them. The foxes carry large prey to the privacy of Withy Wood to eat it.

Poncey was a large pheasant, and I considered him a smart pheasant. Any bird has to be very careful where it lands, particularly at this time of year. Hiding-out in an oak tree was one of Poncey’s better ideas, but landing in any area close the North Pond, without checking it out first, is very definitely not recommended. The North Pond is a favourite hunting place for the marsh foxes.

I have checked Poncey’s tree on a couple of occasions since, and his absence is proof enough for me: he is dead!

This episode proves that getting too involved with a wild animal is not a good idea: it will end in disappointment. It also shows the folly of investing a lot of time studying a single wild animal: it will either drop dead, or another animal will eat it.

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12 Comments on “R.I.P. Poncey.

  1. Pingback: Sunday, September 18, 2011 | Ten's space

  2. Thanks for your comment, Abu.

    Nature works exactly as I have described it, at least it does for animals that are on foxes’ menu.

    Foxes are our top predator, and they do need to eat. I must admit that it does look like they are working hard and making more kills. Perhaps the long grass has cramped their style, and they have been going hungry. It might be that they are finding their prey easier to catch now, and are making-up for lost time.

  3. This is such a sad story!

    I am enthralled by your blog. I have lived overlooking Wilden Marsh for more than 30 years, and I have always considered it to be a derelict industrial site. I am now quite ashamed at my lack of local knowledge.

    I understand the marsh is closed to the general public, but would it be possible to get a guided tour? It would make the reading of your blog so much more interesting and relevant?

    Who is the man I see walking through the sugar beet fields with his dog? The times I have seen him, he has been carrying what looks like a garden scythe that he sometimes half heartedly wielding. Is this man Paul with the German Pointer? Is he the one that parks a red pick-up truck by the green box at the Kidderminster end of Wilden Lane?

    I see many people walking their dogs through the sugar beet fields. Am I allowed to walk my dog in the sugar beet field? If So, do I need to be concerned about being approached by the man with the scythe?

    Thank you.

    Jilly.

  4. To be honest Mike, I have been wondering why this Paul has been getting away with it for so long. If I spotted a person wandering about my farm carrying a scythe I would be on the phone to the police without a second thought. Is it a case of someone not doing their job? It sounds like this Paul is having a laugh at your expense. He is carrying an offensive weapon after all. For all you know, he could be a madman.

  5. John, I have to hand it to you! You are absolutely right! I suppose I thought that because the sugar beet fields are owned by Allied Foods and not Worcester Wild Life Trust, that it wasn’t my problem. This is not the right attitude at all. I guess you have to understand that I am not perfect. However, I have talked to Paul on a number of occasions, but he has not been at all receptive. I have passed your comment on to someone who is in a position to get the matter resolved. Thanks for your advice.

  6. Hi Jilly,
    I am glad that you enjoy reading my blog, and I hope you understand why it is necessary to restrict access to the marsh. The marsh is far from being derelict land; it is a thriving nature reserve. If you don’t understand why it is necessary to restrict access to the marsh, please let me know and I will explain in greater detail.

    If you feel that you would benefit from a guided tour of the marsh, I am sure this could be arranged.

    The man you describe sounds very much like Paul. I have checked, and he doesn’t have permission to walk on either the marsh, or on the sugar beet field. He certainly doesn’t have permission to use a scythe on either of these properties.

    The other people you have seen dog walking in the sugar beet field do not have permission either.

    The sugar beet field and Wilden Marsh are privately owned. I would suggest that you do not walk with, or without your dog, on private property without permission, and this includes the wooded area alongside Hoo Brook, behind the green gas substation at the Kidderminster end of Wilden Lane.

    WWT members and permit holders are allowed to access the Southern part of the marsh only, via the pathway alonside the scrapyard, and walk along the riverbank path to the gate marked PRIVATE.

    It is possible to obtain a permit to walk on the southern marsh, but the permit would be subject to restrictions that must be observed. Anyone requiring a permit to access Wilden Marsh should contact Andy Harris on 01905754919.

  7. Hi Mike,

    Is the colour photograph of the fox taken with one of your remote cameras.

  8. Yes, John. The colour photograph of the fox is taken with one of my remote cameras; in fact, it was taken with the fox-cam. Why do you ask?

  9. I like the photo and just wondered if it was taken by an SLR.

  10. I have just bought a camera trap. Do you have any advice on how to stop it from being stolen? I was thinking about buying a braided wire lock, the type used to lock up a bike.

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