Continuing in my documentation of a Westcountry Bestiary, I am pleased to be able to introduce you to the Ditch Dragons. They are depicted here in their natural habitat on the edge of a country lane in deepest Somerset. For those unfamiliar with my local landscape, the beautiful county of Somerset is, generally speaking, a wet and soggy place, and as such it requires much drainage. The verges along the edge of quiet country lanes are not the solid ground that foreigners may imagine. Take care! Stepping off the road onto the verdant fringe may take one precipitously close to a hidden ditch sometimes several feet deep, wherein lurk Ditch Dragons.
Be not too alarmed, these are small creatures and for the most part timid, camouflaged throughout the winter in a plumage of greens and browns. In summer months, however, they have much cover of foliage in which to hide and so do not require such drab disguise. The hogweed and the nettles grow tall, and the Ditch Dragons emerge from their gloomy lairs in fiery orange plumage, to frolic in curious mating rituals.
Generally flightless, there have nonetheless been reported sightings of flying and fiery dragons, usually in the vicinity of the town of Glastonbury. It is thought that particularly frisky and ambitious male dragons will, on occasion, gorge themselves on hogweed, which has an unfortunate effect on the otherwise carnivorous Ditch Dragon’s digestive system. Intoxicated with the plant and with belly swollen with flammable digestive gasses, the dragon will thus float above the hedgerows, merrily belching his love for his intended mate and propelling himself backwards by means of the flammable gas emitted from his nostrils.
This of course is merely hypothesis, and may be the invention of suggestible Glastonbury imaginations, the ditch dragons therefore are here depicted going about their natural business of foraging in the undergrowth for worms and beetles. Wasps are a favourite amongst Ditch Dragons, who consider them to be a spicy snack and something of a delicacy.