Friday, December 19, 2008

Week 50

Week 50

An up and down week again for the weather, beginning with a huge downpour followed by some nice cold days and finishing with high winds and the afternoon temperature climbing into double figures degrees Celsius. Early in the week we had our third days shooting. My employer’s grandchildren plus friends filling the sky with lead while we beaters poked around for the few remaining Pheasant and Partridge. For much of the week we have been inundated with pigeons although these failed to show on the day. The bag was half what was shot on the first two days but more importantly, all enjoyed the day, an important lesson to learn in all field sports: it's not about the bag, but all about the day.

A little Egret has turned up this week. Every winter we saw more and more of these highly conspicuous birds, I have a photograph somewhere of one fishing in the small stream that runs through the Mill House garden. In stark contrast to the brilliant white plumage of this small member of the Heron family is the black cloud that I see flighting up the main river every morning: between twenty and thirty Cormorants all heading to the Upper Test for a day feeding. I have seen groups this big while fishing a pond that borders the Middle Test and know of several keepers who see them roosting in numbers in a particularly isolated tree; sitting like the birds from Noggin the Nog. I have said it before but up until five years ago I had not seen a Cormorant on this stretch of the river, I now see numbers every day either passing over or pitching onto the river and pond to feed. With no national strategy to prevent their steady rise in numbers something radical must be done regionally to protect fish stocks on the chalk streams of the south where the clear water provides easy fishing for a Cormorant. An organised and concerted effort by keepers and riparian owners to go out with their shotguns, pigeon bangers, crow scarers and fireworks at the same time for a few days to keep these birds on the move and push them on somewhere else, preferably back to their natural coastal environment. It's an “I’m alright Jack policy” but in the absence of any National effort to limit the damage being done by these birds to freshwater fish stocks it seems the only option available.

The first few eggs in the hatchery started to hatch this week, they will go on hatching throughout the next week. So far they have been one of the best batches of eggs that I have ever done, with few to pick out daily. There is time for it all to go wrong yet.

With the National Trout and Grayling Strategy preventing us from supplying our natural mixed sex Brown Trout to the few people that we have supplied over the past five years, we are exploring various ways of replacing the income lost from these orders. Either by buying in some non indigenous Rainbow Trout Fingerlings and growing them on to a stockable/smokeable size or growing on some Carp to supply Coarse fisheries, either of which is alien fish culture to that which should be going on this river valley, the rearing of native mixed sex Brown Trout to replenish stock in the river.

The National Trout and Grayling Strategy for the River Test?….. Bonkers!

And like so many strategies dictated from on high over the past decades, completely unworkable, unenforceable and out of date before implementation.

On the dog front Otis had his best day shooting yet, although we are currently on our third house phone in as many months and he proudly demonstrates his soft mouth by pinching baubles off the Christmas tree.

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