We have a glamorous intruder in our garden! For the last week, a juvenile heron has been browsing amongst the hedges and borders. Looking for any unsuspecting small creatures, with head tucked into the neck, still as a statue, it waits… and waits… and waits.  I’ve seen it pounce just once, when two small rodents emerged in search of old bird food. The dagger-like beak flashed, and all three disappeared under a myrtle bush, with no sign of a catch. In my photo there’s a small bulge about halfway down the neck, so it’s obviously had some success. Such an elegant creature, it’s wonderful to see it close up. Like the other water bird that came to stay, it will probably move on as it matures.

Now – still with a water bird theme – um…A slight misjudgement by me.  Concerned about the broken-winged duck (nicknamed Brenda by us) I asked for help. She’s unable to fly, and with the water level so very low she was marooned in the pond. We dropped corn onto the lily leaves for her every day, but they were disappearing fast, with nowhere else to leave her food. A lovely chap from Sussex Wildlife Rescue managed to catch her and we took her to a shallow pond at Three Lanes End. She walked happily in, dipping and diving and climbing easily out again. So, we left her, knowing there would be an ample supply of corn there for her! Early next morning Louise rang to say Brenda had been seen walking across the field towards the church. We dashed down, and sure enough she was back in the village pond! Bit of a lesson learnt?? Nature often knows best! But how did she find her way safely back? (The water level is right up now by the way, and she’s ok!)

Another tale of animal independence – and navigation! As a member of the Royal Yacht Squadron years ago, a neighbour remembers a dog that regularly went with them between the Isle of Wight and the mainland – over from Cowes to Lymington. A big crossbreed Alsatian/Retriever – much loved by the crew. One day in very rough weather he went overboard, and though they searched for ages, there was no sign of him. Some of the men were almost in tears as they abandoned him. Many hours  later, an extremely weary dog was seen coming up off the jetty at Lymington. He’d obviously followed the route the boat always took – even though he could have got across to dry land much sooner! Amazing, eh!

Lastly, a lovely moment in Bedham, as Alan led his old horse round the fields on his evening walk. They were suddenly surrounded by swallows, house, and sand, martins diving low around them, stopping off on their journey for a feed of insects thrown up by Chief’s big hooves!  A magic moment, he said, lucky thing!

Now…Thank you for your company –  Seasons Greetings – stay safe and see you in the spring!

Sue J