We have received from Simon Knight, our wildlife photographer, a very disturbing report of what we can only describe as an attack by an out of control dog.
On Sunday 1st of May, whilst I was photographing wildlife in Kestrel Field, I was charged at by a large dog whose owner was almost on the opposite side of the field. The dog ran around me barking, which was quite unnerving. It then ran off through the tunnel in the hedge into Corn Field, all the while its owner was calling it without it responding. A few moments later it ran back into Kestrel Field (owner still far away) and charged at me again, this time it seemed more aggressive and it jumped at me, still barking.
 This is where the attack took place.  The tunnel from Kestrel Field through the hedge into Cornfield.
Luckily I had my camera backpack on and I turned my back to the dog as it went for me and it got the bag instead of me. For a while I was quite scared and worried for my safety, I really did think that it could have bitten me.
On another occasion, whilst looking for wasp spiders in the Kestrel Field set-aside, another dog off the lead jumped at me. It scratched my back as I turned away from it when it jumped at me. Also, when I have been lying down, under cover, trying to photograph water voles between the pond and the decorated bridge, a dog has charged at me, barking in my face. That was pretty scary.
 Wasp spider  Water vole, both photographed by Simon in the reserve.
I have spoken to local photographers who won’t even come to the park because so many of the dogs are not on leads and not under control. These dangerous and potentially damaging incidents are the direct result of out of control dogs being off lead, in direct violation of the Countryside Code. This is not the sort of behaviour that should take place in a Nature Reserve.
This is very worrying. The park is supposed to be a safe haven for wildlife, where families can walk and play while the children learn about their environment. If you cannot recall your dog, please don’t let it run off lead in the reserve; if your dog is off lead, please keep it in sight at all times.
It is particularly worrying to hear that there are people who avoid visiting the reserve because of the behaviour of out-of-control dogs. If you have seen other incidents of such behaviour by off-lead dogs, please comment, message or email us.
Header: The Lone Oak by Simon Knight.