Sunday, 15 February 2015

Love those game birds - feed them well!

At this time of year Pheasants will start to move into areas that are good nesting sites

I would like to take an opportunity to remind ALL shoots that just because the season is over, does not mean that our responsibility for the game that remains on the land that we manage, has also finished.  

We often talk about the “hungry gap” for farmland birds and of course the same applies to Pheasants and Partridge, especially as they have been used to being fed throughout their lives so far.
Most shoots have clearly got this message as I usually still find fully topped up grain hoppers and keepers continuing to scatter grain and small seed to feed both game and small birds. However, I think that there is still a minority that allow their hoppers to run out once February arrives.

The GWCT has clearly shown that if hen game birds are well fed once they start to lay and incubate eggs, then they are far less likely to desert in poor weather conditions. Also, should the nest be predated, but the hen bird survives, then once again, she will probably lay a second clutch and try once more. But if the same scenario happens to poorly nourished birds who are under-weight, they will simply call it a day and give up.

I think that supplementary feeding should therefore continue into April, and should it turn out to be a late cold spring, then well on into the month of May too. 

If hoppers are still in their “winter” positions within woods, then they should now be moved to good nesting areas, such as along the edge of woods and beside thick shrubby hedges with grass margins. Game birds like to nest within good ground cover, with sunlight shining down, not in the middle of dark, bare woodland!  

It is important to keep feeding game birds through the spring months

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