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Water Water Everywhere

2nd of December 2000

Since I wrote the last article entitled wet wet wet it hasnt stopped raining! How lucky we are to live on a hill in Chipperfield, but even here many fields with low lying patches or very compressed areas have standing water on them. At our farm in Kings Langley we can boast a pond where a small dell used to be complete with a pair of mallard and a flock of black headed gulls!
Black headed gulls could almost be described as land gulls as so many live far from the sea. They are the gulls one most often sees following the plough looking for worms in the freshly turned soil and they will eat almost anything and often scavenge on rubbish tips and around sewerage farms. They only have a black head during the breeding season. At the moment they are gleaming white with just a dark spot behind the eye, light grey wings and bright red legs and a red bill with a black tip, as if it has just been poked into something mucky, which it usually has! Although they make a picturesque scene where floods have formed in arable fields their webbed feet do quite a bit of damage to young crops as they paddle around the edge.
The countryside seems full of foxes at the moment, we seem to see one whenever we leave or return to Scatterdells Lane after dark and the farm is alive with them. Some are a picture of health with fine long brushes tipped with white, one has a coat so dark it almost seems black, but some are suffering badly from mange and have little fur left. Although as a poultry keeper I have often been at war with the fox, I always get a thrill from seeing a really fit fox but my heart sinks at the sight of a poor creature with no fur left on its tail, its head held low as it slinks along looking for an easy meal as it is no longer able to catch rabbits and other wild food. Our dogs have caught mange on many occasions and the terrible itching that the microscopic mites cause nearly drives them mad. I am afraid we will see many more foxes like this if hunting is banned. Hounds soon account for the old and the ailing. I know that I would rather suffer a quick death at the hands of a pack of hounds than a long lingering one while pack mites bite me
to death! Wendy Bathurst

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