The last two days have seen the arrival of what I would call reasonable weather, here in Beetley. Reasonable, in that it didn’t rain yesterday, or today. (Yet) Time for longer walks with Ollie, and allowing him back into the river, following a two-day ban after his wash and brush up.
Extending the usual walk by almost an hour gives Ollie the chance to really get back to examining all the smells and trails, made even better for him by the absence of heavy rain. Even though I am still being bitten despite copious application of my ‘Jungle Formula’ spray, I don’t have the heart to keep him away from the wooded areas or the riverbank, where the biting insects can be found in abundance.
Yesterday afternoon, he became unduly taken with a scent he had picked up. Snuffling like a cartoon bloodhound, he set off in the direction of the riverbank, to the north side of Hoe Rough. I followed along, happy to not have to dodge flooded areas, or deep mud. Close to the bank, I saw a large heron lift, flapping into the trees to the east. I like to think that this is the same heron I always see, and that it has returned once again to Beetley. However, the usual heron is unconcerned by the proximity of snuffling dogs, and this one seemed alarmed at the sight of Ollie approaching.
At first I thought that Ollie had noticed the heron from a distance, and set off to have a closer look. But the flapping bird did not interest him in the least. He was inspecting tiny blades of grass, and individual leaves close to the riverbank. Unable to contain his curiosity, he walked into a deep part of the river, and continued to sniff under the overhanging vegetation close by. Around the bend, I could hear a splashing in the river, but I was unable to view the cause. It was a swirling sound, not unlike hearing the clothes sloshing around in a washing machine. I tried to get closer, but even after allowing myself to be cruelly stung by clumps of nettles, I could see no further around the bend in the river.
Ollie set off in the direction of the noise. He was nose-down, and even sniffing the surface of the water. Once I could no longer see my dog, I became a little concerned, but I knew that he would come back if I whistled. I could not recall ever seeing him so determined to track a scent, and I had a feeling that he was onto something. Very soon, the splashing noise stopped, and Ollie wandered back sedately. I had an idea that it might have been otters. They have been seen in the river quite frequently, though I have never spotted any, in the four years I have been wandering around. Out today, someone told me that they had seen otters by the bridge yesterday, at the far end of the river. Perhaps my suspicion was correct.
I am pleased that Ollie didn’t get close enough to tangle with them though. They have sharp teeth and claws, and might well have injured him. I also would not have liked him to hurt them in return, as they are delightful creatures, even if fishermen do not like them, for obvious reasons.
We walked past the same area today, but nothing took Ollie’s fancy.