29th December 2016…Muscovy ducks on the Tamar

20161229_130625.jpgAnother visit to Cotehele House where we had to pick up our vase bought from the shop there and which we had returned for damage inspection. Popped in to the Hall to see the Christmas Garland for the second time….quite impressive, lots of people viewing it again, but not what I would call spectacular. On this occasion we walked down the hill alongside the marvellous valley gardens (which we must visit in Spring for the Azaleas and other spring shrubs). Plenty of daffs pushing through the jet black soil, and TV reported some in bloom somewhere in the UK on this day…..earlier and earlier. At the end of the garden we took the path to the river and walked to Calstock under the impressive viaduct. Passed some lovely houses, some with yachts moored alongside, but the whole setting is a little oppressive and very damp. Water trickled down the algae encrusted granite. Calstock a pretty little village, and luckily a cafe was open which although specialising in Italian ices did a very cheap cappuccino and we sat on sofas by the wood-burner…rather splendid. On the bank outside we saw some friendly unusual ducks which I have now looked up and they 20161229_132714.jpgwere Muscovy ducks, not at all common and presumably belonging to someone. ‘Muscovy ducks are great on the farm to control insects the natural way. They are particularly helpful controlling flies, grasshoppers, ticks and mosquitos. If you put them in a pen with cows or calves they will eat most of the flies. In one experiment where two year old Muscovy ducks were put in cow pens, the fly population was reduced by 80 to 90 percent’. Why are there not a lot more of them, that’s what I say?! Calstock is in Cornwall, just, looking across to Devon on the opposite side of the river. On the walk we passed a couple of lime kilns, and at one time it was, like many places in Cornwall, the centre of mining and other industry. There was a really well restored chapel with a magnificent picture window and this hosts Arts events.

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