Savouring late summer
Shooting Times & Country|September 08, 2021
With the pheasant poults safely fed and watered, it’s time to enjoy the beauty and bounty of our glorious natural world
LAURENCE CATLOW

When I think of late summer, I think of roadside banks and verges aglow with rosebay willowherb; of waste ground smothered by a fading spread of half-seeded meadowsweet; of long, leaning stalks of yellow grass; of ragwort and of rowans already hung with thick clusters of red berries.

I think of thistledown and spiders’ webs; of tired leaves on the trees and of riverbanks so matted and tangled with the rank profusion of spring and summer growth that you risk a sprained ankle with every step along them — which is, of course, a risk worth taking when it brings you the possibility of trout. I think of all this and much more.

But above all, I think of pheasant poults and I am pleased to report that the pheasant poults of High Park came to their pens on the first day of August and, more than three weeks later, I could not be happier with how they are doing.

Kind weather has undoubtedly been the chief contributor to this happy state of affairs. If, by the way, there are any climate-change sceptics among the readers of this diary, I can guarantee that you will be sceptics no longer when I tell you that the arrival of my poults was followed by four dry days and nights. And the rain, when it came, was normal rain — a heavy shower now and then and, from time to time, a few hours of gentle wetness. Nothing to disturb young pheasants already well settled in their new homes.

What, you will now be asking yourselves, happened to the monsoon that has visited Cumbria every August for something like 30 years? Where were the cloudbursts? Where was the thunder and lightning? Where were the endless downpours and why on earth are both my bridges still standing?

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