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A few more than anticipated


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It would appear that the Fenlands is the place where all the pigeons are currently congregating and not in my part of the country, as I found out recently.

During the last couple of days I had carried out reconnaissance over the farms that I shoot with very little pigeon activity at various times of the day. There are still a few wheat stubble fields (no barley grown locally) and now that the maize has been cut, I thought that to be a possibility of a few, if not more down feeding. This maize is cut for biofuel and as a consequence, the cutter bar is set low to obtain the maximum amount of all of the crop for the anaerobic digester. This meant that there were very few, if any cobs lying on the ground to attract pigeons. This was in contrast to a couple of years ago when the maize was hit by heavy rain and strong winds and so laying the crop such that many of the cobs were cut up and scattered over the fields. This proved irresistible to pigeons and they remained on it until well into the growth of the next direct drilled wheat.

I viewed a few fields of wheat stubble out on the marsh where I`d previously seen about fifty feeding, but not so yesterday. Then I remembered a small field of beans that had been cut recently. Beans remained scattered all over the field with not a pigeon in sight. Someone please explain to me why pigeons will quite readily feed in the tramlines of a standing crop of beans, but for some reason, when cut with beans spread all over the field, they are not interested. Perhaps time-wise, there have been other crops more appetizing at the time after harvest. I`ve found that beans in my area can be very hit and miss.

My last resort was a favourite little shave of trees alongside an already disced wheat stubble, where I decided to set up with very little hope of even a shot, but at least it was getting me out and there`s always something to watch across the marsh from the hide. The upside however, was that my pal Stour Boy and his dog Decker would be joining me for a couple of hours, so that we could at least have a catch up and share a bit of lunch. Stour Boy had decided , due to a shoulder injury, that he wouldn`t be shooting, but was there to `spot` and Decker there to retrieve. 

Conditions for this spot were not ideal with the wind in our faces, meaning that any birds approaching the whirly and flapper set right out from our hide position would come from behind and unseen over the trees, if not actually settling in the trees, again unseen. Social distancing in our large hide was not a problem, but both being quite deaf meant that the conversation often went off on a tangent and totally lost in translation, but we managed somehow to make sense of some of our individual ramblings.

We sat watching with interest as our farmer friend began connecting up his irrigation pipes and before long was spraying water over an adjacent wheat stubble. We assumed, rightly or wrongly, that he was softening up the ground to enable further cultivation, which a previous attempt had proved problematic, with much dust and very little cultivation on that part of the field. The rainfall in these parts had been sporadic and obviously insufficient for his needs. This was only our assumption, perhaps he was getting the ground ready for some direct drilling of rape perhaps. Would have rung to ask him, but don`t like to as he`s pretty busy at this time of year.

The pigeons were however, a bonus and offered a few shots and retrieves for Decker who seems to have recovered from a bad period during the very hot periods with aching limbs, much like many of us old`uns.

A few took me by surprise coming from behind, but the ones that I had trouble with were the odd one going quickly from right to left as a snap shot. Being left handed, I struggle with such a shot, being unnatural to the body swing. I was OK on any left to right.

We had plenty of time to discuss matters varying from Goshawks to gout and even had sufficient quiet spells to eat our sandwiches, plus pork and pickle pies and a large chunk each of Mrs. Stour Boy`s now famous cake. This time it was ginger cake. Thank you Sue. I did however, forget to bring a slice each of gipsy tart that my daughter had made for us. Oh well, I`ll have to eat it all myself. Sorry Steve.

Anyway, we had a few more than I`d hope and picked up 11 pigeons, two of which were youngsters and all had wheat in their crops. All were retrieved beautifully by Decker who seems to be back on true form and was an absolute joy to watch.

So thanks to Stour Boy and Decker for your company and a good two and a half hours enjoyable time out that cannot be taken away.

OB

 

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