The temporary bans on shooting wildfowl and waders came into place in Scotland and Northern Ireland last week, and there was a period over the weekend when it looked like England might follow this sensible practice and suspend shooting until a thaw came in.
The Solway geese were behaving very strangely around 10 days ago, forming massive flocks and smothering fields under their webbed feet.
Woodcock were beginning to appear during the day, and a few that were being shot were starting to look a little on the thin side.
There’s no doubt that wildfowl and wading birds really can struggle in cold weather, and they shouldn’t be shot during periods of sustained cold, however, perhaps “national” bans are not the answer.
Owing to the fact that the shooting suspensions follow political boundaries rather than geographical ones, it is still perfectly legal to shoot geese ten miles south on the English coast of the Solway.
It might make more sense to make the bans more regional, on a coastal or county-wide basis, so that when cold conditions hit a wildfowl hotpsot like the Solway Firth, the birds are protected across the entire area, rather than according to where we humans have decided to put up lines and boundaries.
Scotland and England are big countries for the weather to ever be sustainably good or bad without any exceptions, and it might serve shooting people and wildlife better to put more thought into the scale and technicalities of these bans.
From the perspective of the grouse moor, a great deal has changed up on the hill since last week.
Much of the heather and bog has been revealed from beneath the snow, and bit by bit, the streams have started trickling again.
The same quantities of snipe, golden plover and woodcock are still swirling over the wetlands, and because Dumfries and Galloway was only mildly hit by the recent cold weather and the birds still look very lively.
I’m looking forward to seeing the ban lifted!
The views expressed on Patrick Laurie’s blog are the author’s and not the views of Shooting Gazette, ShootingUK, IPC Media or its employees. www.gallowayfarm.wordpress.com