Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Where have all the pheasants gone?

A wet pheasant in the garden, June 2016

I saw a pheasant today. That would have been a commonplace statement six months ago, when I was seeing pheasants every day in the garden, as I had done for many years. But this pheasant, which burst out of the undergrowth on the edge of the woods as I was admiring the first touches of autumn in the leaves, was the first I've seen since late winter. I don't know the actual date of the last sighting as it took a few weeks before I began to notice their absence but it was sometime in March.

Pheasants are bred for shooting not far away and this time of year often sees dozens of released birds congregating on the roads looking confused and presumably wondering where the hell this big world has come from, if pheasants can wonder at all. Maybe these pheasants will appear soon.

But there have always been wild pheasants in the woods and fields anyway. On any walk I'd see several. And some of them just about lived in our garden, often nesting there, and feeding on seeds and nuts dropped from the bird feeders. Occasionally one would balance precariously on the mesh seed trays and manage to grab a few seeds from the feeder before falling off. The ground under the feeders was always bare dirt as the pheasants scratched up any plants. Now the ground is greening over.

The pheasants have gone. I have no idea why.

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