The Sportsman's Corner
Dutch Island Chronicle 1904
While the parent anxious for the health and happiness of the young folks may regard Canvey Island as the children’s elysium, none the less favoured are their elders who with rod and gun quarry among the denizens of both land and water, for they with equal truth may call Canvey Island the sportsman’s paradise.
For generations past the Island has been notable, if not famous, as a field for sport, and notwithstanding the increasing population it still maintains this claim, with wild duck flying high overhead, a partridge rising from his very feet, and rabbits abounding in thousands—well might the heart of the sportsman beat with delight while such conditions surround him.
A sportsman was one day watching a hawk rising vigorously, its determined powerful flight arresting his attention, when suddenly it ceased to rise, fluttered, then fell to the earth with a thud. Hastening to the spot and turning over the bird’s body with his foot he observed a stoat which the hawk had seized in its claws. It had evidently wriggled from its grip and, seizing the bird by the throat, had thus brought it to the ground.
A correspondent in the Daily Chronicle writes:—”There was a large mole in my study this morning—evidently brought in overnight by the cat and now recovered from the effects of the seizure and fright. Until you have seen a hungry mole in a confined space you can hardly realise the meaning of “ravenous.” The little creature has a marvellous muscular system to keep up, and as it habitually packs its stomach full, it feels the pinch of hunger quick y and severely. Few creatures are so soon starved to death as moles. My little visitor rushed fiercely and incessantly about the room in the vain search for something into which it could burrow in pursuit of food. When I lifted it into a box and gave it a piece of raw beef it literally fell upon it, gnawing and tearing away without a moment’s pause. It steadied the meat with its two sharply-clawed paws, which called to mind the hands of the monkey and the Bushman. When half of the meat was eaten, the mole rapidly dragged the remainder about the box, ultimately leaving it in a corner to return to it occasionally. Then it began racing round the box again. Supposing that what it wanted was drink, I offered it a saucer half full of milk. Without the least hesitation it plunged its snout and forefeet in, like a pig, and steadily drank its fill. When, on taking the box into the field, I lifted up the mole to set it at liberty, it screamed, or rather whimpered. Just this sound is made by no other creature I know, but no cry could be more exactly suggestive of the alarm of a blind beast exposed to danger it finds no means of avoiding.”
It has been suggested that a museum might well be founded on Canvey of preserved specimens of the many objects of sport (animal, bird, fish, and insect) that have abounded on the Island.
Mr. Hart Gregson has promised the loan of several specimens for such a purpose, it is hoped this example may be followed by other public spirited gentlemen. This would greatly aid the establishing of such a place of interest.
We should be pleased to give publicity to any proposal for the advancement of this object.