Monday, December 1, 2008
A mixed week for weather with the early morning temperature ranging from minus three degrees on one day to seven degrees on another. There are still a few fish in the Redds, although the majority of the spawning is doe and dusted now. On the warmer days of the week we have had a flurry of Olives early in the afternoon with some of the early spawners raising a nose to the surface to feed. The quicker the fish get back on the feed after spawning the better condition they will be in come the start of the season. The Grayling are in prime condition along with the perfect Roach that average a pound and have a blue sheen to their silver flanks. With the weed all stripped out, several shoals of Roach have joined up to form a “super shoal” that move up and down the river like Mackerel in a harbour.
The number of Ducks coming onto the pond has tailed off a little; as a result the water on the pond has cleared a little making the Fish in the pond particularly vulnerable to Cormorants.
The Old Barn up the road that is being renovated now has a new roof, windows and doors. The previous incumbent a particularly soporific Barn Owl has not been given a key, the Estate putting up a smart new Owl box in the tree next to the barn, which he has yet to use. An estate further down the valley, for several years ran a Barn Owl breeding programme and put up several Owl boxes up and down the valley. Inspection a few months after installation revealed a few Owls had taken up residence but families of Mandarin Duck inhabited most. The Owl that lives next door is relatively used to human activity. On two occasions he has lolloped his way over the grass verge of the lane flying slowly at a height of six feet while I have driven alongside him for several hundred yards.
In the garden we have been invaded by Long Tailed Tits who visit the Bird Feeders en masse every day. We also have a particularly vigorous grape vine that covers a pergola behind our back door, the grapes are inedible to even the tartest of pallets so we leave them on for the birds, who are now whacking in to them as they have passed their maximum sweetness and started to ferment. By teatime and after several hours of getting tipsy on the alcoholic berries we have a huge Kafuffle instigated by the only Blackbird I know of with an Asbo, drunkenly hanging sideways from the pergola eating berries before having a drunken swing at a passing Blue Tit.
We had our second day Shooting at the end of the week. The weather was much better than our first shoot, we did not see as many birds as the first time through, but thanks to some particularly straight shooting we finished up with the same bag; predominantly Pheasant with a few brace of Partridge, Duck, Pigeon with a Woodcock thrown in. We saw four Woodcock in all, no Snipe and no Geese; a cold snap will change things considerably. On the first two days shooting last year we put up three or four Muntjac deer on each day, this year we have seen none.
I have sent the annual fishing report off to the Test and Itchen Association, a tale of woe with much grumbling about the weather and weed, and have also had a letter published in the Trout & Salmon Magazine revealing my old fashioned views about the stocking of Triploid Trout.Otis has now chewed through three phone cables and a pair of my wife’s best boots, although he received better reviews for his performance on the shooting day.