Aerial view of the riverThe Ditton Corner plot from the airFen Ditton - an aerial view

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Swan Diary


Animal X-Files

The Truth is Out There...

Strange Nature Notes from the Garden of Ditton Corner

August 2005

Squirrel Thorpedo

OK this time we got a photograph...

Squirrel does a width

Can you see what it is yet?

We watched this guy swim right across the river, from the willow trees on the other bank. We reported a similar sighting in 2001 (see below). Nobody believed us then, either.

July 2005

Five Cygnets in 2005

Our Swan Diary continues with the news that the pair raised five - count 'em - babies this year and they've all survived. Now busy flexing their wings ready to fly off.

March 2002

Wild Horses Thunder Through The Fens

Croquet lawn with repairs & sprinkler

Our croquet lawn has had an emergency transplant from a well-matched donor in Haslingfield after being savaged by  equine intruders.  Spencer and Hugo, the two work horses kept in the field next door, broke down the fence and practiced showjumping on the prize green.  Helen and Misi lured them back into their field with a trail of apples.  Turf surgeons performed an emergency  operation but the lawn may retain horseshoe shaped 'lucky' hazards for some time to come...

Feb 2002

There's a Fish on the Lawn...

Hey Mum, there's a fish on the lawn  Yep.  It's a fish all right.

Yes, strange to relate.  There it was one morning.  A fish on the lawn.   The FRONT lawn.  It's about 150 metres from the river, the other side of the house.  How did it get there?

There's another fish... a big one

Pwooor - it stinks!

Dead Pike

It was a two-foot long pike - a 'Grt Jack' as Grandpops would  call it - dismembered on our river bank.  Still not sure what did it.  Too big for the heron (or is it?).  Perhaps an otter?  Last reports of otters in this area were over ten years ago.  Perhaps they are back.  Keeping our eyes peeled.

July 2001

There's a Squirrel in the River

True.  No photos to prove it but two eye witnesses.  Nigel Playford and Andy were playing croquet on the river bank when they heard a squawking of birds and a commotion, followed by a loud splash in the river.  Boys throwing a brick?  As they went down to look into the centre of the ripples, they could see a swimming animal making its way from the middle of the river to the bank.  It jumped out, shook itself dry like a dog and shot up the garden at speed.  It was a squirrel!  What on earth caused a squirrel to drop into the middle of the river, we still do not know.   An extremely whippy branch?  A predatory hawk carrying it off and dropping it?   An entry for the squirrel diving regatta?  It was a very lucky Mr. Nutkin.   I bet even he didn't know he could swim.

Owl in Distress

Owl in the long grass

Helen first spotted the owl skulking in the long grass.  It was being mugged by vicious magpies.  Armed only with gardening gloves, a towel, an empty box and advice from the Raptor foundation, she saved it from its tormentors and took it to the recommended vet.

Owl eyes Henry from inside the box Owl makes itself at home in the box

The owl was taken and handed over to the vet.  Some hours later the vet inspected it and decided nothing was broken.  Helen received the phone call: "Doctor Mulligan, your owl is ready for collection."  OUR owl???   Henry rose to the occasion, with a mercy dash straight from school.  They inspected each other and Henry decided it was time for the young owl to come back to its home at Ditton Corner.

Owl being released by Alice

The releasing ceremony was at dusk, when owls are safe from those magpie bullies and can get their own snacks.  Alice performed the Born Free routine.    What to call him?  Can't be Hedwig, because in Harry Potter, that's a snowy owl.  This one's a tawny owl.  How about Chestwig?

Owl spreads its wings and flies.

After several attempts, the reluctant owl finally spread its wings and returned to the wild.  We heard him in the trees a few hours later, expressing his gratitude.  We knew it was him.  He was saying "thank yooooooo".