Bucking Franco

[Ed: Very close to being a Spoonerism!]

This is a first – we’ve bought a few bird feeders with us. Quite a few campers do it. There’s an obscenely humongous American mansion on wheels parked relatively near us – I suspect it’s a so-called “full timer” (one who lives permanently in a camper) – with half a dozen bird feeders dangling on a pole. We have a modest two feeders, one of which is full of peanuts, the other being empty, awaiting suitable supplies (it holds fat balls but fat balls have we none).

Having arrived with food for just one evening, we needed supplies, too. Towards the end of our trip last September, we discovered a very interesting farm shop so we headed straight there after a suitably filling English breakfast of toast, eggs, bacon and mushrooms. (Well, when in England …) In addition to an array of chickens, pork and sausages, our eyes were taken by some packaged local, New Forest venison. Here would be an interesting taste comparison, since they had both Roe Deer and Fallow Deer venison. This time we picked some Fallow Deer rump steak but we will be back.

We continued into Brockenhurst for a few extras and, importantly for our avian friends, some fat balls for the empty feeder. Amongst the usual suspects, Great Tits, Blue Tits, Robins, Chaffinches, etc., Francine had spotted an unusual visitor. March Tits and Willow Tits are very difficult to tell apart, both having black skull caps and dark bibs. Given the habitat and the fact that ours had visited our feeder, we suspected Marsh Tit. (Our book says that Willow Tits don’t visit feeders.) I’ll need some luck to capture it on pixels, though, as it’s very fast and has eluded me thus far. Hopefully the bribery of more food will help to provide more opportunities, though.

IMG_8343_Bronco  After lunch we went for a wander to try out our new, bizarre English footwear, Wellington boots. After Waterloo, Wellington is not a name that sits easily with a Francophile but, given the weather conditions of late, such items of clothing make sense regardless of their name. About half way around our walk, we spotted a pair of golden-coloured ponies (I’m sure the English horsey set have a strange name for the colour but I don’t know it), one of which began wandering straight for us and from quite a distance, as you can see from the photo on the left. This is strange behaviour, normally the New Forest ponies completely ignore tourists. The tourists, likewise, are encouraged to ignore the ponies. We had already wandered very close to several ponies in the middle of Brockenhurst en route to the shops. They ignored us totally, as advertised.

IMG_8344_BroncoThis pony wandered straight up to me. It appeared friendly, not that ponies wear obvious expressions on their faces, so I said hello and began walking away in an attempt to leave it alone. It sauntered after me me down the path, drawing alongside and eventually overtaking me. Francine, who was ahead, was getting concerned lest it began eating her hair. (A horse had scared her witless by munching her hair when she was a child.) My attendant pony appeared to be acting a little like a duck on a canal, expecting to be fed. I told it I had no food. It stopped, I overhauled it , then turned and snapped its picture (on the right) for the archives. As I turned again to continue down the path, I was more than a little startled when it turned to present its rump to me, raised itself up on its two front legs and lashed out with both rear legs delivering me a well-aimed kick to my hip/rump. Zut alors!

Fortunately, having turned, no damage was done, short of being a little shocked and bemused by this particular pony’s behaviour. I would not have wanted to take the blow in my solar plexus. I did have an interesting hoof mark on my jacket, though. Normally, the New Forest ponies seem quite placid but this effing bronco clearly took something of an exception to Franco.

Lesson learned.

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Posted in 2011 New Forest

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