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Protecting wild birds

With the cold weather seeming to drag on indefinitely and no real end in sight for the shooting suspensions in Scotland, there have been plenty of opportunities to take care of the wild birds as they struggle through the cold weather.

When the big freeze finally hit the grouse moor, I gave up all hopes of making it over the three miles of farm track each day to check my traps and keep an eye on the black grouse.

The car slithered all over the ice as I drove up on Tuesday to spring my fenn traps, and heading back down the hill again, I wondered when I would next be able to get up there again.

In the meantime, I have been helping on a flightpond for wild ducks down near the Solway Coast.

Every year, I am lucky enough to be invited to shoot wigeon and teal on a well fed pond a few miles inland from the mudflats, and when the ban came in last week, I offered my services to the keeper, who has 101 other things on at the moment to keep him busy.

As I expected, my offer of help was snapped up, and I headed up to the pond with a sack of barley on my back.

Being one of the few ponds in the local area that is really well positioned and fed, it was hardly surprising that it should’ve been covered in birds, but I was unprepared for the sheer quantities.

Over 100 teal were the first to rise from the pond, followed shortly after by a torrent of wigeon.

More than two dozen pintail rose out of the rushes in the distance, and a scattering of mallard swirled overhead as I smashed up the ice and scattered feed into the water.

I’m not normally invited to shoot the pond until the last week in January, but if there are as many birds on the water as there were this morning, it looks like I’m in for a real treat.

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.