More enchanting tales from the banks of the River Wissey
It was going to be another really hot day. Already there was a distinct warmth from the sun and yet breakfast was only just forgotten. Alongside the narrow reaches of the river Wissey there was a complete and utter peace. The water was clear and the shingle bottom between the reed beds was plain for all to see. The beds of weed waved endlessly in the never ending current and provided both shelter and home to a whole host of creatures and fish.
Several large shoals of chub patrolled the shallow water. This was their territory and their manner sported a definite superiority. There were all sizes. Most merely stood station facing the flow whilst the largest patrolled in the shade of the margins. At intervals a splash would show that they were on the feed.
Within an adjoining dyke another mass of assorted life including a colony of frogs and froglets stirred up the water and mud. Perpetual motion ruled and added to the picture of laziness. Thus all such life happily co-existed and thrived in this wonderful world of nature.
That was until a tiny water snail was discovered by one of the frogs! He was a large adult frog and had just inspected his hatch of froglets. Without hesitation the snail was eaten. There was a whole family of snails on the underside of the lily pads and no doubt the frog would soon return for the remainder.
On the frogs return to the dyke one of the large chub noticed the movement, watched and waited and eventually pounced and ate the frog. The ultra tough mouth of the fish had no trouble crunching the frog which provided a very tasty and welcome snack. The chub then casually resumed company with his fellow fish.
The sun was now red hot and all activity within the river had noticeably slowed down. Thus very little happened until the evening whereupon May flies rose up from the bottom of the river and formed a wonderful hatch. Swallows swooped down and fish rose up to feed on the new born insects. Dusk and the absolute quietness prompted an otter to take to the water. He was a third generation of otters who were introduced to the river a year or more ago. Soon he was diving and twisting and when his playtime ended he sought out food. He knew the haunts of the fish and headed upstream.
Our particular chub was in the same stretch as always. Like most of our wildlife fish are invariably creatures of habit and thus it is often their downfall. The dark shadows of the weedbeds hid the large chub and although highly sensitive to any threat the otter was even faster and it was instantly grasped in sharp claws. Soon it received the all important death bite and was on the riverbank being eaten.
Night came and the only stirring was a man alongside the river. Like the creatures already mentioned this was also his territory. Night time was the time he searched the hedgerows and holes and runs for anything that lived and breathed! The previous evening the otter had been sighted but it had alluded him. All the more determined he now inspected his traps and alas our otter had fallen victim. It was purely an uncaring sport that the man was seeking and so the otter was killed and left hanging from a tree.
Now the intention of the story was to demonstrate a 'complete' predatory circle but it has proved impossible to connect the mans demise back to the snail! The only way to end is to relate that the snail's brother was so incensed that he bought a gun and shot the man and so it has to be!!
With apologises by Ivor Hook