Shooting Times & Country|November 27, 2019
Now here’s a dilemma. Over the years I have worked hard to try to reduce the rate at which rats and grey squirrels can pinch the grub that I put out for my pheasants and partridges. Using 25-litre metal drums with narrow slots in the base, and hanging them from low branches or a tripod of upside-down fence posts, has all but eliminated their scavenging.
This is great. It saves food, means we have fewer squirrels to damage our growing trees and, most importantly, there are far fewer rats. I hardly need point out why having fewer rats is a good thing but, aside from reduced predation on nesting game, it also means we use less rat poison. This again saves money, and it also reduces the amount of rodenticide that goes up the food chain to other wildlife.
These days, when I watch a pheasant at the feeder, I see very little grain being spilt. The birds peck what they want out of the slots and, if a grain does drop, they usually bend down and peck it up straight away. This is all wonderful, except for one thing — there is precious little for the finches and buntings. I still often see a yellowhammer or two under the feeders, as well as a few chaffinches, but I rarely see much else.
At this time of year I’m not too worried about this. Our many little strips of unharvested barley, combined with wild bird seed crops such as Pheasant & Finch from Bright Seeds, give a great food resource for a wide range of farmland birds.
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November 27, 2019