Beaters shoot at the start of the week, good fun day although a few regulars unavoidably absent. Shooting of mixed quality. On the first drive I ran down the water meadow upstream of us in an attempt to put some Canada Geese over the guns. The Geese got up, flew out the side of the drive and settled on a nearby lake, a little further on down the meadow several Snipe flushed from a flash and skittered out the other side of the drive. A couple of dozen Mallard rose from the river zoomed into the stratosphere way too high for the guns and shortly afterwards a Woodcock doubled back away from the line. It would have made for a fantastic ten-minute walked up drive, along with the Pheasant and Partridge, six species in one short drive.
In the last drive of the day another flush of Ducks, a friend dropping one straight into next-door’s garden. A weekend/holiday let cottage, the factotum who lives in the garage???? was in the garden and a little stunned when a dead duck dropped from the heavens to his feet. I retrieved the stone dead Duck and apologised. Previous incumbents of the cottage, a friendly family with children the same age as my own and a lady who lived there for thirty years would not have batted an eyelid, but having already received a solicitor’s letter from the current owners over some perfectly legal weedcutting I anticipate a letter from a legal representative of the owners, or the Duck.
Otis improves with every day shooting, on this day? three retrieves, a pigeon from the pond, and a Pheasant and a Moorhen from the final few drives. The end bag wasn’t huge but varied, with Pheasant, Partridge, Pigeon, Mallard and Moorhen, a hugely happy day finished off with a Bacchanalian lunch around my employer’s dining table, capped by a brief visit from the local Constabulary who were no doubt summoned to investigate the suspicious death of a Duck.
The weather this week has been wet, the river is at a good level and getting a thorough flush through. The fish in the hatchery are feeding hard now, last season I hand fed the fish throughout the hatchery stage, as opposed to using an automatic clockwork feeder and was surprised at the results. Far less food was wasted and growth rates seemed to be greater. Currently I hand feed the one and a half centimetre fry four times during the day, and spend twenty minutes each morning cleaning the tank out with a siphon tube.
I have now rolled all of the maize in the gamecover, what Pheasants that remain are feeding on it along with a few hundred pigeons that hit it hard most mornings. The forecast for next week is for snow and a cold snap so the one and a half acre strip will become a magnet for many hungry species.
This week we have booked a spring fishing trip to the river Ebro in Spain, Carp and Catfish fishing on a huge river with huge fish, no guides or packages, just dropping in on the place to “have a go” The logistics of getting us all down there with all of our tackle will take a while to sort out but will hopefully be worth it. Some sacrifices may have to be made by the girls on the clothes front if all that we need for fishing is to be transported.