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After a magical roost shooting session a couple of weeks ago, and with the weather forecast predicting a rather blustery day today, I hatched a plan for a follow-up attempt in the same spot this afternoon.  However, (and I'm terrible for this) inevitably I felt a bit of pressure:  I very much wanted to match or exceed the results I got last time, especially as this was also going to be my last outing of the year.

Second Album Syndrome is a common phenomenon with music artists.  They burst onto the scene with a ground-breaking, fresh new sound which catapults them to fame; their first album goes platinum and they sell out gigs all over the place.  Then, they go back into the studio to come up with more magic for a follow-up album and promptly hit a brick wall.

I had my long eared companion with me today, which was nice in many ways but sometimes I think I shoot better on my own due to the lack of distractions managing a dog.  Willow is a few weeks short of 11 and is the oldest puppy I know! 

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After putting 50+ birds out of the trees at 15:45 on our way to the blind in front of the conifers, in readiness for their return we dashed behind the cover whilst the pigeons swooped downwind beyond the wood.  I say "we", but one of us was running round in circles like a lunatic making the first few returning pigeons jink and flare way out of range.  A swift bit of boy-scout work involving a dog lead and a tree branch resulted in the liver and white pinball being contained for the time being, and I managed to get the gun pointing somewhere interesting.

It was a brief encounter, but I managed to peel off 3 shots and get myself on the score board with one pigeon to show for it.  Then it went very dead.  If anyone managed to stay awake long enough during my last report, I'm shooting from a blind i cobbled up just off a line of very tall leylandii trees.  The prevailing SW wind is coming over your left shoulder here, so the birds usually come in from the right of you, either staying on that line or flying along the edge of the conifers before resting up in the bare hardwood branches.  The more round to the west the wind is, it seems the less guaranteed the birds are to come over the centre part of this tree line - they can slip over the back and you've just got a solid wall of conifer over your shoulder, no sky visible so so once they've got past you they're safe.

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I told a wee porky in my last report.  The beech in front of the hide is more like 10ft than 10yds away.  It wasn't an issue the first time I shot here but has become more so, the more times I've used the blind!  I'm going to re-build the blind for next year basically wrapped around that beech tree.

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The lull continued, and fairly soon I knew I wasn't quite in for the bonanza of a fortnight earlier.  Nowhere near the number of birds were coming in to the wood, and due to the wind direction they weren't being funnelled right over my position.  I tried moving a couple of times but to no avail.

The highlight of the afternoon for me was when the sun was dropping low, with clear skies on the horizon but a large block of cloud overhead.  The whole world became hued with a vivid and hauntingly beautiful shade of orangey pink.  It was mesmerising.  The beauty of this sublime gift from mother nature is totally lost during translation via phone camera and then onto a screen, but believe me it was electrifying.

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And then just to cap it off, rain started falling and a rainbow formed, facing the setting sun and enveloping me and the now peaceful woodland.

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So how was my "second album?"  From a shooting perspective, I was hoping for a Led Zep II but kind of ended up with a Des O'Connor's Greatest Hits.  I can't grumble, don't get me wrong, I pulled the trigger plenty of times and hauled in a fairly decent bag by my standards, but it just didn't click, didn't flow.  It was a struggle.  I bagged a square dozen pigeons.

My own selfishness aside, Willow had the time of her life today.  She retrieved everything I knew I'd shot - when she eventually decided to go out in the direction my hand was pointing.  She also sniffed a couple out which I had no idea were down, after having worked her in roughly a 100yd circle around my shooting position.  Since losing my other spaniel in December I've been acutely aware of the fragility of life, and the imminence of mortality.  Sounds a bit dark, but really I'm an optimist and how that affects me is by making me make the most of her whilst I've got her, and whilst she's still capable.  She might take a turn for the worse next year and could never come roost shooting again, so why not spoil her.  She doesn't need asking twice.

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My shooting was below par today and I even missed a sitter about 20yds away!  I need to pattern test the cartridges I'm using, I've lost all confidence in them, but I'm convinced... or have managed to convince myself... that they are not throwing a consistent pattern because I'm having some unexplained misses, barely wounding easy-to-kill birds and then retrieving the odd bird with literally half its head blown to pieces.  Something's not quite right.  I only had one satisfying "THUNK and folded up dead in the air" kind of shot today.  Cartridge economy was exactly 4:1 which is not a disaster but it was 2:1 last time out when I shot 18 here!

Feeding habits are definitely changing.  Almost every bird was full of clover and there were virtually no ivy berries, which is interesting because there's still plenty of ivy berries available.  Maybe it shows they only eat the berries when there's nothing better?  Same as rape?

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Amazingly, a few birds are still managing to find some remaining acorns, one had only a tiny amount of little red seeds I couldn't identify, one full of rape and one had been on a bird table.

There was also a lot of these little pale, soft feeling pods in one bird, if anyone's got a clue what they are?  I split one open and it didn't have anything inside it.

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Thanks for putting up with my rambles.  Roll on next roost shooting season 👍

Edited by Jim Neal
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Excellent report and beautiful scenery! with the standard my shooting has been at since this time last year that would have been a red letter day for me!

Interesting you mention the clover, even on my drive home from work I'm seeing a lot of pigeons on the verges at the sides of the B roads I enjoy driving home on, or down in the grass in the fields.

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Your report will easily keep you at the top of the leader board , nice to have photos to look at while you are reading about the afternoons event and then capping it off when the sun have gone down for another day , excellent report and THANKS for sharing :good:

P S ... The Red seeds could have been treated drilled Spring barley , wheat seed .

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Thanks Gents.  I think I came home with a proper cocktail mix of emotions yesterday!  Overall I was feeling a little frustrated at my shooting, which obviously shows in my report.  However, the more I reflect on that outing, plus the handful of others I've enjoyed this winter, the more I realise how insignificant the size of bag or cartridge economy were, and just how lucky I am to simply be able to go out and shoot on a fairly frequent basis.

Nobody I know mentioned the weather/light phenomenon yesterday, and I think I was possibly occupying the best seat in the house to enjoy it!  The way the strange coloured light mixed with the cloud, sky, trees and then the rainbow shining through it was just breathtaking.

I'd love to shoot that wood more often for pigeons but have to ration out the trips due to the proximity to the village.  This afternoon I bumped into a mate who lives on the farm just across from the wood.  He was trying to weld something up on on his truck yesterday afternoon and had to give up because my shots kept making him jump 😆 Another mate I saw this evening walking his dog just asked me how many I shot - he heard the bangs and knew it was me without asking!

This winter's shooting has had the added dimension of bringing my son along a few times as well, which is stressful but it's just a rite of passage in the father/son relationship I suppose.  "It'll get easier over time" I keep telling myself "and the rewards will come later after the hard work is put in now".  Please?! 😲

13 hours ago, JDog said:

Those seeds look like something out of an over wintered birdy mix.

I know what you mean but the stewardship plots I've seen around here are all standing leftovers of last year's growth - there's no new greenery or anything as far advanced that would be bearing pods like that.  I was wondering if they're off a tree of some sort.  I've tried to ID the pods with an app but it's telling me they're either a mushroom or a chilli pepper.  The latter could be plausible?!

13 hours ago, marsh man said:

P S ... The Red seeds could have been treated drilled Spring barley , wheat seed .

Definitely not a cereal, I'd easily recognise those ;)  They were very small seeds, the size of rape seeds, some spherical and some a bit more oblate and a tad bigger.  The red was similar to the colour of dressed seed but the size/shape made me think it might be something natural.  Who knows!  I've not seen any drillings locally yet, only a few fields been ploughed and so far not worked any further.  I haven't emptied the "crop contents" bucket out yet, maybe I'll have another rifle through it if I'm feeling bored before bed 😅

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Another great report but this time beautifully illustrated. 
We now have come to expect a weekly account of your ventures afield Jim, so keep them coming. 
It really doesn’t matter if you don’t shoot anything, just your detailed description of the surroundings will be enough.

Many thanks for posting.

OB

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12 hours ago, Old Boggy said:

Another great report but this time beautifully illustrated. 
We now have come to expect a weekly account of your ventures afield Jim, so keep them coming. 
It really doesn’t matter if you don’t shoot anything, just your detailed description of the surroundings will be enough.

Many thanks for posting.

OB

I'm afraid you'll be disappointed -  I've peaked and gone over the hill! 😆

That's the last of my roost shooting for this winter; I always stop about this time to allow things to settle in peace and quiet.  I don't decoy any more due to lack of time to do the permissions justice, so will only be pigeon shooting from now on if I'm lucky enough to get an invite out anywhere.

My rental house got put on on Rightmove on Tuesday afternoon, picked up 10 viewings by the following breakfast time, to be conducted throughout that day, and was let subject to contract within 24 hours of being advertised 😲  As soon as I've got the last few little niggly details sorted there and the keys handed over I'll be full on into Larsen trapping on the shoot and trying to encourage my mate who shoots foxes to get out in the truck with me.  We've got a fair few leftovers on the ground that I'd like to give half a chance to breed.  I'm already a fortnight late with the traps but you can't do everything, I'm physically and mentally exhausted at the moment.

Maybe a lamping report over the next couple of weeks, but they're not always action-packed!  I appreciate the compliments and interest shown in my reports, I'm sure people shoot better and enjoy more action than me but I think it's good to hear what other people are getting up to, just out of interest, so I like to put a few posts up every now and then.

Time to hear from someone else I think, come on guys!

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16 hours ago, Jim Neal said:

I'm afraid you'll be disappointed -  I've peaked and gone over the hill! 😆

That's the last of my roost shooting for this winter; I always stop about this time to allow things to settle in peace and quiet.  I don't decoy any more due to lack of time to do the permissions justice, so will only be pigeon shooting from now on if I'm lucky enough to get an invite out anywhere.

 

Time to hear from someone else I think, come on guys!

Hopefully, sometime in the near future we will read of your further exploits afield.

OB

 

Edited by Old Boggy
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