Tim one of our Night Porters has provided me with some funny stories involving the wildlife at Ragdale Hall….I hope you all enjoy reading them as much as I did!
Just occasionally we come up against the wildlife that surrounds the Hall so here’s a few stories which I hope will give you a smile!
Surprisingly, the almost completely enclosed back garden has caused a few problems. One night about 11.30 pm I became aware of a duck quacking loudly on the back fishpond next to the conservatory. This was going to wake all the guests that overlook this area unless I took some action. There was already one lady looking out of her open window. I gently threw a few small pebbles in the ducks direction but it thought I was feeding it, so thinking a bit of bread might quieten it down I tried that. But while eating the bread the quacking continued – it was calling to its mate on the front moat! As I was thinking what to do next a fox appeared through the back gate, homing in on the duck swimming in the pond! I had to stop the fox getting to the duck and ripping it apart in front of at least one guest so it was a case of I went one way and the fox went the other until he got fed up of me and decided he didn’t fancy Duck a la Ragdale after all. With that, the duck flew off to join his mate and peace was restored.
One summers evening we were having our last tea break and were amazed to see a long slim animal sneak through the bushes, dive into the pond, catch a fish and run off with it. Next morning at the same time, there it was again. It looked like an otter but was in fact a mink! They can be pretty nasty creatures that will kill anything for a meal so we had to do something to try to stop the fish being taken. Fellow Night Porter Chris decided to tackle it, so armed with a white towel he went outside and using the towel as a cape (bullfighter style) tried to prevent the mink getting any more fish. It showed no fear and ducked under some bushes, launched itself into the pond and off with another fish! We expected the mink the following morning but it never returned so maybe Matador Chris scared it off after all!
On another occasion, not long after the Thermal Spa was opened, we had some quite warmish autumn nights and the back garden was lighter than normal. There were a lot of birds singing beyond midnight which is very unusual. The birds turned out to be robins who sing to warn other robins this is their patch. It has never happened again that we have had so many at that time of night. We weren’t the only ones to notice either – there was a comment form that said “taped bird song in the back garden at night, REALLY! Ragdale is taking the ambience too far”! But they were real birds and there was no stopping them!
We ran into more bird trouble again but this was concerning the area near the outside pool. We had been having trouble with large flocks of starlings, which from time to time leave equally large deposits of bird muck as they go. In an attempt to keep them away we were told that one of us was to run towards the outdoor pool area flapping our arms to scare them off if they descended! Obviously we were concerned that any guest looking out of their window may think we had been on the drink before starting work! Thankfully the starlings did not land that night!