The Tortoise and the Hare

Hornet 2807182 16

Hornet leaving the nest

Heavy rain fell during the night. I awoke to a sky thick with clouds, and a bone dry patio. My garden soil was damp, though, and more rain is forecast for later today.

I walked the north marsh yesterday afternoon with Paul Allen, Countryside and Conservation Officer for Wyre Forest District Council, an avid cyclist and a person much fitter than I. We met to discuss grazing issues and my ongoing grazing animal requirements. Unlike other local Reserves, we are still producing thick, luxurious grazing here, in spite of this year’s very hot, long, dry summer conditions. I’m expecting further green growth after the rains arrive. We still have a few ponds and pools of standing water on the marsh, but the GCN Pond and South Pool are now completely dry. Hoo Brook is little more than a trickle of its normal flow.

On Thursday evening, I made the mistake of announcing to the marsh herd that Paul would be visiting them at 3 o’clock next afternoon. Paul and I scoured the north marsh trying to find the cattle yesterday, and hide nor hair did we see of them during the first circuit. We split up and tried again from Hoo Brook. We fought our way through the thick vegetation and oppressive heat of the Swamp. I felt as if I was playing a part in Wilden Marsh’s version of “The Hare and the Tortoise”: Paul being the hare. Eventually, Paul found the cattle hiding in a North Pasture copse.

I don’t need to strike out purposefully to find the herd, I come across them as I walk around: I see or hear them going about their daily business. I’ve noticed, though, if someone is with me, or it’s a volunteer workday, or if there is a contractor working near by, the cattle sneak off and hide in a copse until the strangers have gone. When Paul and I were wandering around looking for the cattle, and we were calling and whistling for them, they remained silent. After we had found them, and as we walked away, we heard a single, triumphant, moo….

Zooming hornets performing tight swerving turns to avoid my head this morning, reminded me that a nest was nearby, so I walked back to take a few photos. Nest activity had increased, with much toing and froing. I nudged my camera closer to the nest entrance and a stream of hornet dived at my face. I held my ground. My hands were cupped around my camera body and they protected my eyes. I knew that any sudden movements on my part would result in a very sore head. The stream of hornets split and served around my head in a Red Arrow display team kind of manoeuvre. I wasn’t wearing my normal, non-threatening, dull green garb: I wore a light cream coloured shirt, which might have agitated them. I suspect also that they didn’t care much for my liberally dosed, insect repellent soaked head. I took the general hint, and left them to their business and I carried on with mine – a wise move I think!

8 Comments on “The Tortoise and the Hare

      • They don’t always recognise me until I whistle. The calves might bolt, but then stop dead in their tracks when they hear my whistle. I think the herd prefers peace and quiet and are not keen on human company. They used to be curious when people were on the marsh, but now they tend to avoid them. The cattle can disappear into the long grass and trees surprisingly quickly.


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