River Wissey Lovell Fuller


February 2008

Another delightful tale from the banks of the River Wissey from our local fisherman

The dog fox was fast asleep. It was the middle of the day and certainly not the right time to venture out. He lived in a cosy hole hidden away in the middle of a large mass of bramble hedge. The tangle of branches and thick undergrowth provided the perfect protection he needed. On one side were endless meadows and at the rear the upper reaches of a river. From the entrance he could survey his surroundings whilst the river was the marker he followed to find his way home when travelling near and far on his quest for food. Most days were just lazy but at night the old fox was always afoot. He would follow the hedgerows and only rarely would he use the footpaths and farm tracks.

As evening approached he became fully alert. Pangs of hunger stirred in his stomach but he waited for complete darkness to arrive before he left his den. This evening he trotted off at a fast pace but regularly stopped to check out any foreign sound or smell. There was no wind so his senses were fully alert. He passed several stubble fields and then suddenly froze. He flattened himself against the ground and only his bright eyes betrayed his presence. Two rabbits in the same field also stopped - they too had sensed something. Eventually the fox raised himself, paused and chased at the rabbits but with the comfort of distance and fast reactions they quickly disappeared down an unseen hole.

Undeterred our fox continued on his way. The ground was now glistening and signalled the coming of a frosty morning. Full of purpose he stopped again and listened. The only sound was a far away owl. He carried on his way and came to a range of derelict farm buildings. The rusty corrugated tin structure had collapsed long ago and just beyond was a small stagnant pond. A clear sky hosted a full moon which cast a ghostly reflection onto the water. Beside the pond was a grassy clearing where ducks and geese frequently gathered - their smell was still in the air. The presence of our friend put a cock pheasant up into the air. It screeched and clattered as its long tail just cleared a row of bushes. This lonely place was well known to the fox. He bristled with confidence and sat completely motionless. Eventually a handsome drake-duck appeared and paraded backwards and forwards at the waters edge. The fox's ears twitched but otherwise he remained quite still and just watched. Then with great deliberation and with a single movement he leapt forward. There was a splash, a long feeble quack and the fox had found his dinner.

With the duck firmly clamped in his mouth he scented the river and found his route home. Assuming an air of importance he trotted past endless rows of reed beds. The hard frost was now turning everything crisp and white. Natural instinct continued to make him cautious but when he somehow disturbed a large flock of sleeping geese he was unconcerned. With great noise some took to flight while others slid down the muddy banks into the water to escape - they were unaware our fox was fully satisfied. He continued to follow the many bends of the river Wissey but gave wide berth to a concrete road bridge. He then skirted the village of Northwold, which was fast asleep, and within minutes he was home.

Apart from a few bones, some feathers and a pair of webbed feet the duck was soon devoured. The fox then curled up with his nose resting on his tail and a long deep sleep took over.

Ivor Hook

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