Went beating on a friends shoot Tuesday and although I believe the ridiculous numbers of Pheasants (some 40 Million) that are released each year are a major cause of the decline of our small farmland birds this shoot is one of the better ones happy to see Red Kite, Buzzard, Peregrine Falcon and Owls as part of the natural order of things, and on the first drive I had close views of both Barn Owl and Tawny Owl plus 4 Jay's.
On the second drive a field of cows with calves at foot were objecting to a dog and his handler so it was decided that me being a retired farmer should walk the hedge on the side containing the cattle because of my cattle experience although I have a niggling doubt that it may also be that at my age I am expendable or they know that fear makes me an incredibly fast runner, any way although the cattle followed close behind me sniffing and snorting that long walk went off without incident, still I must admit a pair of eyes in my ass to keep an eye on them would have been comforting.
Third drive and i'm being called on again to walk a field with a herd of bullocks no! I said bullocks, now these are males that have been castrated so no problem, Oh No ! The farms fully bollocked bull is running with them and so mr. experienced ex farmer camboy is asked to walk the long hedge round , once again much sniffing and snorting, apart from friend Billy Bull who kept his distance while his eyes never left me, in all fairness my eyes never left him either.
My next duty is on stop at the end of the Wadi (a seasonal rain gully) and it is full of water and I noticed a Rabbit stranded on a piece of over-hanging timber, glad to say he eventually made a giant leap onto dry ground, a Hare probably frightened by the sound of shooting swam across the Wadi and emerged the other side in a very wet and bedraggled state, he had no need to worry for although there are a lot of Hares on this ground the syndicate do not shoot them. After some twenty minutes I heard some squealing and chittering coming from a Rabbit burrow higher up the bank and am certain a Stoat or Weasel was slaughtering the occupants. Eight Long Tailed Tits, another Barn Owl, a Green Woodpecker, 3 Herons, 2 Buzzard,a Red Kite, several mixed flocks of Finches and the usual Corvids and Woodies along with a Pied Wagtail were most of the birds I remember. I now have the task of plucking and eviscerating the brace's of Pheasant and Partridge I brought home with me.