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Friday 17 March 2017

Duck-Of-Death: The Scourge of the Warwickshire Canals

Decided I was going to have a long run on Sunday. London Marathon is creeping up and my miles run have been sadly lacking … well me. Running them.

The weather was perfect, bright and cool. The trails weren’t too muddy (except for one small section which I had to long-jump over – I like to think of it this as cross training) and I had the whole afternoon to just run.

Everything was going perfectly, until with the daylight fading I got to the 20 mile point. This is a long stretch on the canal, a bit muddy but a nice flat path. I was 2 miles from the end of my run and a MASSIVE dinner … until something glimmered whitely in the distance.

A swan. The scourge of the canal-side runner. And not only one, but two swans, one of whom appeared to be sitting on a nest. The closest swan spotting me in the dusk, arched its wings menacingly in the standard ‘I-will-kill-you-and-all-your-family’ way that swans do.

A swan. A bloody swan. 
I retreated. The swan smugly (it was practically smirking) sat down next to its mate on the nest and put its head under its wing.
Aha! Maybe it’s gone to sleep! I took a tentative step forward. No movement from Duck-of-Death. A second step … out popped its head.
Crap. I retreated again. What were my options? The canal was on my left, on my right was a very steep drop and a river. The drop was so choked with weeds and trees, I couldn’t creep around that way. I didn’t want to go back. It was a good few miles back and then I’d have to go onto major roads and take about a 6 mile detour to come back to this point and it would be full dark.
I eyed the swans. The one on the nest was about 4 feet from the canal, the other one about 3 feet from it. There were ducks sitting almost opposite the pair which if I tried to run for it might act as an alarm and make the swans go mental and eat me.
Argh! Decisions, decisions … and they all involved either death by swan, drowning in the (filthy) canal or running ultra distance in marathon training.
Maybe if I tried the creeping up thing again? I surreptitiously moved up the canal path, but the guard swan kept LOOKING at me. In a threatening way. In a “You just try it, sunshine” kind of a way. In a “I EAT joggers for ALL my meals” way.
I HATE being called a jogger.
I kept my eyes averted and kept creeping. I was now about 8ft from Scary Swan. I kept very still and it tucked its head under its wing.
Legs spinning and arms pumping, I flew past the ducks who clattered into the air, squawking their displeasure, the swans’ head popped out like a beaky jack-in-the-box but I kept going – expecting to feel the bite of a large bill across my arse any second! But I just kept going ...!
I turned back, still running to see it, large on the bank behind me but not catching me when I tripped over something grey and HISSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!! In my shock, I jumped about 6ft towards the canal and nearly falling in just kept my balance while the Canada Goose I’d tripped over and it’s mate hissed and did smug duck face at me.
I bloody hate wildlife.


  1. Thanks, grim yet so funny! Thankfully in UK now but in Australia you have to deal with magpie season - even more terrifying as they divebomb from behind so no warning! Yep, the joys of wildlife!

    1. Eeeeek! At least the swans give fair warning!!