What on earth was that!
15th March 2012: It’s been another still night on the marsh. A muntjac made the most mournful barking sound I have heard in a long time. The kind of call that belongs in one of those dark and misty, decrepit grave yard scenes that are sometimes used as the backdrop for the opening credits of a horror film.
My plan for this evening was to make a quick visit to North Pond to see how the toads were doing, again! My marshing evenings rarely end up being anything like quick. My internal clock seems to slow down when I’m absorbed in nature.
In my earlier post, I mentioned that when I am totally focused it would take a loud bang or shout to grab my attention. Well, something happened tonight that very quickly grabbed my attention. I was standing in a few inches of water at the edge of North Pond, just watching and listening. I had slipped into one of my well practiced vacant mind states, which I find calming and a very effective means of comfortably passing time. If someone were to seem me, they could be forgiven for thinking that I had fallen asleep standing up, but they couldn’t be further from the truth. I am able to hear and follow the slightest sounds and, to my knowledge, I have never yet fallen asleep on my feet. I fell asleep on a washing line once, but this is another story.
Boosh! Something slapped into the water, close to the opposite bank. I was wide awake and alert in no time; adrenalin seeped into my bloodstream and the hair on the back of my neck stood to attention. Ripples spread across the entire surface of the pond – I could see their epicentre.
My first thought was that someone had thrown a large piece of wood in the pond, but nothing surfaced. I thought it might have been a pike, and then I thought an otter. I watched the splash area for around ten minutes, but nothing further happened. I slipped back into my normal vacant watching and listening state of mind, waiting for things to happen.
I heard a rustling in a large clump of brambles I was using to break up my silhouette. I was standing stock still. My night vision had kicked in long ago, and I could see most of my surroundings. The rustling stopped and started a few times, and then the marsh fox emerged eight feet away from me. It stood at the edge of the pond, looking right and left, had a drink, and then looked straight at me. It stared at me for two or three seconds, uncertain of what I was, before rapidly tuning tail and bolting.
Time, and a badger passed by. Various other night-time marsh noises interrupted my vigil, but they did not interest me enough to warrant further investigation. It was just pleasant standing by the pond, cloaked in darkness. However, I was thinking of calling it a night … Boosh! The splash was larger, louder and closer this time. I saw the culprit!
That was my signal to make my way home. I’ve had enough of toads. I had seen all I want to see tonight, and more. I was satisfied with the nights work. I packed my gear away, shouldered my rucksack and walked slowly home.
Oh! What was responsible for frightening the life out of me tonight? Perhaps someone can guess the culprit….