Sunday, 20 February 2022

Season Crossroads

 Today was the last day of this winter's wildfowling season and it will not resume now until the 1st September.  That now means that my favourite winter birds, the White-fronted Geese, can safely fly around the area close to the reserve  until they fly back to their northern European breeding areas as Spring approaches.

As a result I was along the sea wall of the reserve not long after first light, to see how many wildfowlers were present on this last morning, enduring the gusty strong winds and grey, poor light. The answer was five and as they begun to regretfully pack up and set off for home, I walked along with a couple of them for a while, chatting about their shooting season and what will happen on the reserve during the Spring and Summer months. I realise it's only natural for many birdwatchers to abhor the fact that the wildfowlers get enjoyment from shooting the wildfowl but their actual bags throughout the season are surprisingly low and achieved from many hours of sitting in intense cold weather in muddy conditions. To talk to these guys, as I do on a regular basis, is to realise that they get a perverse pleasure from enduring the harsh weather conditions in order to kill their next dinner and that many have long experience of wildlife and the countryside in general. So, apart from odd birdwatchers and walkers, my dog and I now have the reserve to ourselves for six months, Spring beckons and with it, the excitement of the first returning Wheatear.

In a few weeks time the sheep will leave the reserve and be replaced soon after by cattle with their recently born calves, Lapwings will begin their courtship displays, the grass in the grazing meadows will begin to green up, the catkins on the willows will burst forth and a whole new season will begin - I can't wait.


12 comments:

  1. Spring is glorious, isn't it? Hope your damage from Eunice wasn't too bad.

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  2. Thanks Wilma. I lost a few roof tiles and some fence panels but nothing major.

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  3. Hi Derek,
    There are countrymen (women) and those who visit and assume some form of superiority because they carry binoculars or fishing rods? Those wildfowlers have experienced the harsh reality of the environment, not because they want to kill wild birds for fun, but instead wish to shoot their own dinner as opposed to picking it off a shelf in Tesco? Everyone is entitled to an opinion, just helps when you don't wear blinkers? - Dylan

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  4. Despite the storms, compleatly natural for February, all the signs of nature tell me that spring is most definitely on its way. Here's to a glorious summer Derek.

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  5. I agree Sally, thanks for commenting.

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  6. I can remember the immortal "BB" writing of his love of the flora and fauna and his repect and admiration for the birds which were the subject of his sport.

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  7. Shooting to provide food I dont have a problem with but when you read of all the pheasant carcasses being wasted just for the "sport" is not for me. Even though they are bred for that purpose.

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  8. Totally agree in respect of pointless wastage in game shooting.

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  9. My friends back home in Scotland used to work as beaters and they would tell me horrific stories of what they had seen. The wealthy toffs shot at everything that moved and many of the birds were only wounded. The injured birds would limp into dense vegetation only to endure a slow and agonising death. My mates could not understand why these idiots were allowed to have a gun in their hands.

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  10. I do hope you are well Derek. Not enjoyed your musings from Sheppey this summer. I do love hearing about an area so different to my own local area of Shropshire/Worcestershire borders. I do understand though, sometimes there's just nothing to say. Thinking of you as we charge into the 'dark season'.
    Roll on the Solstice and the move towards the light!
    Best wishes, Sally

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