Wednesday, 12 November 2014

The Hunter - Free

The forecast was set fair for the shoot, with just a hint of showers, a deceptive light breeze for the hunters and (dare I say) a little too much sun on occasion! While neither 'gunner' or 'beater', there was never any intention of passing up the invitation to join this country pursuit, which would be far and away different to my usual quiet and sedate wanders around Parley Court Farm. From my point of view, if disturbance there was going to be, the opportunity would be taken to perhaps to see many more birds, and who knows what else, as a result? It was most certainly a day for a Day List!
Arriving Harbins at first light, the 'list' kicked off with the expected 
(in order of sighting) Grey Heron, Kingfisher, Black-headed Gull, Rook,
Robin, Goldfinch, Jackdaw, Cormorant (in Parley Pond not usual), Mallard,
Moorhen, Carrion Crow, Goldcrest, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, 
Pied Wagtail and Herring Gull.
Again there was a modest return from the traps, 
with the highlight of just c4 species caught being this pristine
Overhead, and far less usual, a
 landed on the Golf Course.
Still before the arrival of the 'guns' and 'beaters', a Song Thrush was heard in the far distance a species that has been conspicuous by its absence since the end of the breeding season, round about late August. In quick succession Greenfinch, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Dunnock, Blue Tit, Blackbird, Great Tit, Wren, Chaffinch, Feral Pigeon and House Sparrow were added without sight or sound of Mute Swan or Coot. There had been some discussion about numbers of Starling increasing in the New Forest, but here the numbers have been small. No sooner said than over 100 were seen on power cable, with the total doubling during the afternoon. Getting down to the business in hand
surveyed his change before allocating each 'stand'.
 .One Man and his Flipper' were all ready to go
 as the 'beaters' were also briefed.
 A 'fly-past' as if in salute the 
headed for Bournemouth International Airport
for its (presumed) loading and functioning testing exercises.
 HENRY and Others, stationed in the Maize stubble, 
anxiously wait for the first birds to rise.
The List increased with the addition of Common Buzzard, Long-tailed Tit, Jay, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Kestrel, Teal and Grey Wagtail as we returned to the vehicles.
 A few Pheasants (including a 'live' one also added to the Day List)
and far more satisfying as far as I'm concerned, c2 Magpie, 
another tick, fell to the guns before heading for the next 'peg'.
A learning curve for me, as I had no idea how to access this particular tract of boggy scrub and weed behind the Eco Recycling Plant. It was only a few days ago that I took the 45 minute walk, via Merritown Heath, to end up left of picture where the tree-line meets the Heath. This is the very spot where the Marsh Tits were found, which will be far more easily accessed on my next visit. Something of a disappointment as no Pheasants were flushed, but what did spring from the mire were c2 Common Snipe (Tick) which are not shot here.
Jules 'bags' another bird.
One of about a hundred
now established on the Farm.
A quick pow-wow and a Sloe Gin
before continuing the second half of the day,
Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Redwing, Linnet, Reed Bunting, Green Woodpecker,
and Stock Dove might have brought up the final tally had Jules not shouted
the final addition to a list of 48.
Of the Bag,
13 brace of Pheasant, 10 Wood Pigeon and 2 Magpie
all of which, excepting the latter, will be eaten.
The Gun-Hound
seems to have found a new vocation at his first shoot?
A very tasty repast before we went our separate ways.
It was good to see some old faces and meet a few of the new,
 A HUGE 'Thank You' to Janet for a fine dinner (as ever)!
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