Saturday, 7 January 2017

Shoot Day Out

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.


Belinda said...

Shame on you for going!

Peter Alfrey said...

Shame on me if I was to be bothered by anything that anyone else thinks that concerns my carefully made choices.

Belinda said...

I just don't see how you can be comfortable with posting pics of those birds strung up by their necks. Unless I've been reading your blogs wrong, it seems to go against the grain of everything you purport to stand for.

Plus, shooting is an amazingly 'Capiltalist' activity. Just saying' ...

Unknown said...

Well done Peter for showing it as it is.
That's interesting the ratio of birds shot to those predated .

jollydaydream said...

Interesting to get a rough idea of how many birds aren't shot in relation to release numbers, I've wondered about this and thought it must be quite significant. There are lots of pheasants nesting in Mum's garden as they have a shoot near the woods at the back and I see plenty around the area in general. Beautiful birds! Noisy in the mornings though :(

Peter Alfrey said...

Sophie- will need to check if that figure is accurate or representative but presumably a lot do naturalise and are taken by predators too because they are everywhere in the countryside.

Belinda- I'm not a hunter- I went to see what's going on and reported back on it. I do eat meat and at the end of the day I don't think there is anything divinely immoral about the food web/chain/cycles. I do think there is something 'divinely' immoral about extinction, over-exploitation and fundamental capitalism.

Susan Healey said...

The best way to form an opinion is to see for yourself. Wonder how much this differs from the large shooting moors in the north of England and Scotland? It sounds as though the land is far less intensively managed where you were. Look forward to chatting about it more. I remain saddened by the activity however.

Peter Alfrey said...

I suspect some of the top end shooting estates are managed much more intensively