Holly's dad invited me to the Worminghall pheasant shoot today (a shoot he has been involved for over 20 years) so I accepted the invite and went along as an impartial observer. It was an interesting day and particularly interesting considering I've been closely following the Hen Harrier debate and have no experience of country shooting (considering I'm native to South London).
Firstly, there were a lot of birds on the farmland the shoot was on; without trying I noticed 15 Lapwing, 40+ Mallard, 2 Teal, 80+ Linnet, 25+ Chaffinch, 10+ Yellowhammer, 1 Bullfinch, 100+ Fieldfare and Redwing, 4 Woodcock (3 shot), Grey and Red-legged Partridge, Common Buzzard and Red Kites. A lot of the birds were in the cover crops and copses that had been planted up especially for the shoot and the ducks were on a lake that had also been developed for the shoot.
Also I found it interesting that according to the gamekeeper out of 2200 Pheasants reared and released each year for the shoot only a third would be taken by the guns and the other 1500 or so would either be taken by predators or establish wild populations. I also found it interesting that there were only five shoots in the whole year.
More controversially Woodcocks and Grey Partridge were being shot, both species being subjects of conservation considerations.
Overall I found it very interesting day and I was made very welcome by a friendly group of people and a lot of organisation had clearly gone into the days events.
Highlight of the day was flushing a deer from a hedge that I presumed was a Muntjac but after putting a picture up on facebook it was re-identified as a Chinese Water Deer- a new species for me.
Izzy- one of Holly's family six gun dogs
The bag included over 100 Pheasants, 10 Mallard, 1 Red-legged and 1 Grey Partridge and 3 Woodcock
Chinese Water Deer
Chinese Water Deer - thanks to id from Richard Harris and others on my facebook page. Apparently the main features from Muntjac are the lack of stripes on the face, the softer facial features and also Muntjac hold their tail up when running.