Ruston House

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Go to Top A Skull found beside the Lake

Posted: 11 June 2013

On Friday, I was mowing the paths round the lake at the back of Ruston House when I saw something that hadn't been there two days before.

Just beside the first fishing stand beyond the bridge, and visible from the tip of the peninsula accessible from the cottages, was this pike's head and a few bone fragments.

Pike Head and Bones

I brought the remains back to the house to get a measure so these photos were taken on the decking, not where they were found. As you see, the jaw opening is almost six inches deep from tip of the mouth. That makes it similar in size to the one on display in the Pleasure Boat Inn which was reckoned to weigh some 14lb.

Pike Head

At first I thought this was the first evidence I have seen of the otters that are seen at Ruston Reaches, but talking to others over the weekend I am less sure. I had been told that it is typical for otters to kill a large fish and then leave its carcass on the bank with perhaps nothing more than its heart eaten.

Showing it to others and thinking about it I realise this may not be the case. For a start, where's the main part of the body. Taken by a fox was my best guess, but then I realised all the flesh and soft parts, such as the eyes, are gone, and the skull itself is well mangled. That would appear to make the remains somewhat more than 48 hours old.

So my current theory, suggested by someone who knows birds better than I do, that it was brought to the site by a crow and it didn't come from our lake at all. Can anyone supply a better theory?

Go to Top Postscript #1

Posted: 19 June 2013

Last week I encountered one of the more serious anglers staying at Ruston Reaches and told him the story of finding the pike head. His immediate reaction was that it would have been an otter. He also said, without prompting, that the rest of the body was probably taken by a fox, so now I am back to my original theory.

Thinking about it since, I realise that the head still had a reasonable fresh fishy smell to it when I found it. That would seem to make it less likely that a crow left it there having brought it from somewhere else.

Perhaps of more concern is that this is probably the biggest pike in the lake and I'm told it's the big one that is wanted in the lake. It's the smaller pike we can do without.

Go to Top Postscript #2

Posted: 30 June 2013

I was in the Pleasure Boat Inn on Friday. I took a closer look at the pike that I mentioned in the original post.

It is on display in the restaurant area in a glass case over the archway leading to the bar and it turns out that it considerably smaller than the head at Ruston Reaches. I didn't have a measure with me, but it's gape can't be more than three inches. That suggests that our specimen is getting on for double the length that fish and must have been getting on for 30lb.

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