Game birds, everywhere!
The black grouse blogger is spoilt for sport.
The summer birds have left the moor.
The long days of swallows, wheatears and cuckoos now seem like a very distant memory, but despite their absence, another change is in the air.
From the perspective of an avid game shooter, that change is very much for the better.
Along with the vast trilling packs of redwings, starlings and wheatears which descended a few weeks ago to strip the hawthorns, the first few wildfowl have started to drop in as if from nowhere.
Around the back of the farm, a low ditch runs between our property and the commercial forest to the west.
Walking with my rifle slung over my back yesterday morning, I disturbed a spring of six teal from that weedy trench, and they motored silently away into the distance like grey sparks.
If I had had my shotgun, I’d have had a fair chance of bringing at least one down, but my mind is still set to “summer”, and the wild ducks seemed like some kind of supernatural apparition.
Five miles away, down on the Solway, the pink footed geese have arrived.
Two small skeins pass over my house every evening, impossibly high but magical to hear.
I am told that barnacle geese are also flocking down on the merse, although it will take colder weather to bring them in as far as the grouse moor.
Even then, they will prefer to sit and yap on the ragged stubbles downhill, useless from a sporting perspective, but atmospheric in their way.
Woodcock too are starting to fall down from the skies, and with the October moon filling out, the trickle will soon become a torrent.
One by one, the wildfowl and game birds are coming back to Dumfries and Galloway, and it looks set to be another cracking season.
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