|A cock Reeves pheasant|
I was out doing a bird survey the other day when I came across this handsome looking chap – a Reeves pheasant. I was immediately on my guard as these guys are pretty fearless and if a male has his “dander up”, he can actually be jolly aggressive, attacking anything that deigns to enter his territory, including people, quad bikes and even land rovers!! He "escorted" me through the woodland, walking very close to me, but was actually not aggressive at all.
Reeves were introduced from their native China by the British naturalist John Reeves, who was a tea collector for the East India Company, based in Canton. He brought back live specimens to England in 1831.
This spectacular pheasant is actually mentioned in the Guinness book of records for having the longest natural tail feathers of any bird species, which can apparently measure up to 2.4 metres or 8 feet in length! This chap’s tail, although most impressive, still had some growing to do if he was going to compete with the record!
I expect the odd one is released to keep walkers from dawdling as they pass through the wood or maybe to raise a little bit of money on a shoot day – shoot and miss at a Reeves and it will cost you (donation to a charity) – kill it cleanly and it is yours to take home!