We have “Quacking” neighbours….

Last week I came home from work about 8pm just as the daylight was starting to disappear. I unloaded my car and then looked across the road. I saw two ladies that I had never seen before scrabbling under my neighbours car with what looked like a fishing net. It looked very odd and I was, to say the least a little bit suspicious. I went indoors and looked at what was going on and decided that there was definitely something amiss.

As I walked across the road, my neighbour pulled up on his drive and we spoke to the two ladies who were still frantically waving nets. Then the story unfolded. Earlier in the day a mother duck and her 13 ducklings had been spotted in a quiet cul de sac just off of our road. Later in the day, after a horrendous storm only the mother duck could be seen and she was sitting above a drain and quacking very loudly. The two ladies explained that the ducklings had been washed down the drain and with fishing nets they had managed to save ten but the last three had escaped and were running up and down the road hiding in people’s gardens, hence the net waving.

My first thought was what happens if they do catch them so came back indoors to find a large cardboard box. Soon after one of the babies had been caught and was placed in safety. Several minutes later the second duckling joined him and then the hunt for that last duckling who obviously didn’t want to be caught started.

In the meantime the mother duck and her ten ducklings had vanished and fingers crossed found their way back to their home at a local pond so good news for them.

The daylight was rapidly going and the one duckling still couldn’t be seen. By this time at least six neighbours had been helping in the duck hunt but still to no avail. It was almost dark when I decided to call it a day. I left one neighbour still desperately hunting saying that she couldn’t give up on the last one and that she would find it. Everyone else had called it a day. I went back home and did wonder what had happened to that duckling but thought that the outcome wouldn’t be the one that we had all hoped for. The next morning I received the following message:

Hello ladies.  We managed to catch the 3rd little duckling!!! After making a phone call followed by a trip to medivet, I ended up driving them to The Essex Wildlife Hospital. We got home at 11.00pm.  The vet reckoned they were a day old and have a very good chance of surviving.

This really was a good news story and it certainly brought all of us neighbours out to help. We spoke  to people that we didn’t really know from the other end of the road and it was really great to see people joining together to help. I had never heard of the Essex Wildlife Hospital but since this I have looked them up and they will help with any injured wildlife and will not turn any wild animal away. Certainly an amazing charity and definitely helped with our Good News and its positive ending.

The ducklings were really gorgeous and we all hope that they enjoy their new home. Our neighbour just never gave up and I am sure that without her determination that poor duckling would not have had such a happy ending to its story.

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Benedict Allen rescued from the jungle …

Benedict Allen age 57 is an explorer who until a few days ago was lost in the jungle. The intrepid explorer, who usually lives in Prague with his wife Lenka and three children Natalya, Freddie and Beatrice was dropped into the jungle for his latest adventure on the 26th October.

Allen is a writer, traveller and adventurer famed for meeting local people and learning survival tips from them that are relevant in the local habitats. He doesn’t take phones, GPS or satellite systems with him. He is famous for immersing himself fully among the indigenous people. He has written ten books covering different journeys, completed six BBC TV series and other series for National Geographic TV, The History Channel and Channel Five.

Allen uses a hand held camera rather than a film crew and his way of filming and exploring have allowed millions of people to see truly remote landscapes and peoples.

Looking at Benedict Allen’s website he says on the home page that he hopes that, if people read it,  “it would in some way encourage you if you are facing challenges nearer at hand, whether at work, school or at home. Nowadays we tend to think that our planet is fully explored, but of course we understand very little about the world even at our doorstep”. Just looking at the website gives us an in depth look at what drives him to his challenges. He has taken part in local initiation ceremonies so that he starts to understand how the tribes work. He says that not having the back up of phones and satellites enable him to fully feel how the tribes work. If he had the safety mechanisms he says that he would always know he had a way out and without them he can genuinely immerse himself in their local cultures and traditions.

Previous trips by Allen have included:

  • A six hundred mile crossing of the remote North East Amazon when he was only 22-23.
  • The first recorded crossing of the central Mountain Range of Papua New Guinea.
  • The first known crossing of the Amazon Basin at its widest.
  • Making contact with two threatened communities, the Yaifo and Obini tribes.
  • The first documented journey covering the length of the 1000 mile Nabib Desert.
  • A 1000 mile lone crossing of the Gobi Desert.
  • A thousand kilometre trek with a dog-team through the Russian Far East.

He is one of today’s most respected and inspirational explorers. When you read stories about him you get to understand the real man and the strength of character he has. It has been said that he had to sew up his own chest wound using a boot mending kit with no anaesthetic and he had to kill and eat his own dog just to survive. On one expedition he suffered a harrowing initiation ceremony where he suffered scarring and beating. He has had malaria on numerous occasions. These are stories that you would think could only possibly happen in films or on TV.

On his latest expedition he planned to return to a previous area he had travelled and to make contact once again with the Yaifo tribe. Allen spent three days with them after trekking for ten days through the jungle but then apparently ran into trouble when he was trying to make his way back to civilisation. Local tribes were warring with bows and arrows and turned the region into a war zone. Allen was hampered by torrential rain and an attack of Malaria. A local tribe found him and he stayed  with them as he was completely dehydrated and suffering the ravages of malaria.

Whilst Allen was suffering in the jungle, his wife had started to set up a search for him. He had been due to return and after several days went by and there was no sight of him she reported him as missing. Some members of the tribe where Benedict was struggling against his illness walked over 30 miles to find a village with a solitary mobile phone and they managed to make contact with the outside world. From here the search party was sent to try and find him. A helicopter funded by the Daily Mail eventually managed to find him and return him to civilisation. When asked if he would do it again he said “It is difficult to say I won’t do it again and not cross my fingers. I guess boys will always be boys and explorers will always be explorers”

Great news that he has been found and is in relatively good health considering what he has been through. I am sure it won’t be long before a film is made about the exploits of what actually happened in the jungle. Not quite “I’m a Celebrity Get me out of Here”.