Monday, 19 March 2018


Several weeks ago I noticed that a particular robin would pop up in my feed shed almost every time I was in it. At that time it would hop around and flit from one point to another whilst appearing to be curious about what was going on. For a wild bird it was quite fearless, in that, it would come within a yard of me in, what is, a fairly closed in environment. I began putting odd bits of food down for it and soon we had a regular cycle going on. 

I feed my animals twice a day and, therefore, open up the feed shed at regular times in order to do so. The robin usually arrives a few minutes after me and has got used to eating whatever I dropped on the floor for it. This progressed until the little bird would fly into the shed and sit quite near to me, clearly, waiting for food. I began whistling to it in, what can only be described,as a most un-robin like way. None the less my robin was clearly intrigued by the noise I was making as it would cock its head to one side in, what I took to be, a listening pose. One day, as a result of pouring rain, I put my usual offering to the bird on the base of an upturned plastic tub inside the shed. He quickly realised what was going on and began feeding. 

This has now progressed to a daily ritual, but now the robin sings to me. Upon arrival it sits on the afore mentioned tub and makes a delightful little twittering noise. This is nothing like the normal robin calls which, for the most part, are quite loud and fairly penetrating. The little chap sits making these noises and cocking its head from side to side watching my every move. I respond by getting some bread,which I keep for the purpose, from a polythene bag. I break it up into small crumbs and scatter it on to the bin. Whilst this is going on the robin will fly to a spot a few feet away and wait until I have moved back and then it will feed. This has now been going on for about couple of months each day repeating the routine. The robin and I have now progressed to a situation where it will come within about a foot of my hands whilst I am breaking up the bread. As soon as I move back it will feed happily and allow me to remain within a foot or eighteen inches of it. Any sudden movements and it will fly a short distance away, but, within a couple of minutes it will resume feeding again. 

I am of the belief that the twittering noise is to get my attention and, perhaps, as near as it gets to a request to be fed. It would appear progress and the birds confidence seem to build in weekly stages. Each passing week there is a willingness on the robins part to allow me closer to it. Yesterday it came within six inches of my hand. I have no idea if the little bird is male or female, I wonder if it is female, as in the last few days it’s visits are not quite as regular and seem to be only once a day rather than the normal twice.Perhaps it is sitting on eggs somewhere in the garden. Each year we have been here we have had, at least,one brood of baby robins. Some years two.In addition to all of the above I now have two more adult robins which appear at the feed shed. Not yet on a regular daily basis but several times a week. Word is obviously getting around that food is available. I must say, it is a great delight to be able to get so close to a wild bird and to gain its trust and I eagerly await the arrival of my little robin at each feed time.

All of this stirred a memory in the old grey matter as I recalled that my grandmother had a tame robin when I was a child. She at the time was living in the last cottage along the Straits, the house farthest from where I lived in Rose cottage. I don’t recall the details of how granny’s robin became tame or how long the process took. However, granny’s little bird would actually come and feed from her hand. She would take a chair into the garden, just outside the back door, and sit there motionless with food in her outstretched hand and the bird would fly down. It perched on her hand and would remain until it had enough food. It was, if you like, granny’s party piece. 

So, I am hoping to be able to achieve the same result with my robin and each day appears to be a step in the right direction. I, of course, have no idea if I will actually achieve the hand feeding but I will keep you posted. 

Just an update on the wild rabbits which I wrote about previously, they are alive and well. Apart from the odd sighting in my field, I found masses of rabbit tracks in the recent snow. Actually, many of the tracks came right up into the garden and I could see much activity in the earth mound behind the polytunnel which they seem to have colonised. 

Monday, 12 March 2018

Kingsley Partish Council Cancelled

The March 2018 Parish Council Meeting, originally scheduled for the 22nd, has been cancelled.

The next monthly meeting will be on Thursday 26th April 2018 at 7:30pm at the Kingsley Centre.

Monday, 26 February 2018

2017/18 Shooting season

As I write, towards the end of February, it hardly seems possible that yet another shooting season has come and gone. I seem to recall, as a child, I was told time gets slower as you get older, it seems to me to be the other way around. Be that as it may, yet another season has passed and during all the days I was beating there were only two or three which were wet. Mercifully they were only part days of rain. Believe me, there is nothing worse than starting a day in the rain and continuing to get wet until it is time to go home many hours later. Not good for man or dog. It all becomes particularly unpleasant if the guns stop for lunch. What this means, in practical terms, is the beaters hang around in their cold and wet clothing trying to dry out, knowing full well they are in for a second soaking when the guns return and shooting continues. Fortunately, the keeper on the shoot I go to most often has made a rule that the guns shoot through and lunch at the end of the day. This has been a great success and it also ensures that guns are not handled by people whom have had the odd tipple with their lunch. Say no more! So, for the most part, we had dry days and many of them were sunny and very pleasant. Of course, nothing is ever straightforward, as,on sunny days the pheasants are not in the woods, they are out along the hedgerows dusting and basking in the sunshine. All this means they have to be driven back into the woods and on to the flushing points in order to be presented before the guns. This all takes time and a lot of walking but in the sun it is rather a nice way to spend a few hours. 

Bertie, my young Lurcher, was a year old at the beginning of the season. This was as I planned it because I wanted to be able to take him beating and to begin the job of teaching him his part in the shooting calendar. Any Lurcher worth his salt wants to work and the selection of a puppy from working stock is just the start of the process. During the weeks and months leading up to the season, basic obedience has to be taught and a good standard achieved. There is absolutely no point in arriving at a shoot with a dog which is out of control, the most likely outcome of such a situation is to be sent home by the keeper. A bad dog can very quickly ruin the day's shooting and that would not be a good thing for man or beast. Fortunately, Bertie was receptive and took well to training, he was a quick learner and, I am happy to claim, puts a lot of more experienced dogs to shame. He comes back when called, he stays when told to do so and I can drop him in the down position with a hand signal and at long distances. All of which commends him to shoot keepers. There is always a worry with a new dog that it might be gun shy. Some dogs hear the bang of a gun and are gone. This is something which, as far as I am aware, is with them for life and, I think, incurable. However, thankfully, Bertie does not suffer from that problem. 

Lurchers are by nature, and for the most part, quite clever dogs. I say for the most part as, with any breed or strain of dog, there are always the idiots which appear to be beyond training. The makeup of a proper Lurcher usually includes Greyhound and Collie. The Greyhound being the fastest dog and, therefore, providing speed and the Collie being brainy and providing intelligence. Together these two qualities should make for a very good working dog and, trained well, usually do. One of the biggest matters to overcome in the shooting field, when working a Lurcher, is the fact that they are gazehounds. This means they hunt by sight and not by scent. Working by sight has its benefits but it is also desirable for the dog to use its nose as well. Bertie took to locating and flushing pheasants by sight as though he had been born for it. Which, since he was brought into the world for hunting, is not that surprising. However, it has taken most of the season to train him into using his nose as well. This, really, is just a question of regular and frequent contact with the pheasants in cover where sighting is difficult if not. impossible. The nose, therefore, becomes an essential part in both locating and flushing the birds. Well, don't you just know it, at almost exactly the moment when the penny dropped and Bertie got the idea that nose equals pheasants the season came to an end. Fortunately, dogs have a very good memory and my expectation is, at the beginning of next season, Bertie will pick up pretty much where he left off. So what do we do now and until October when it all starts again? Well there will be a bit a rabbiting and chasing the odd grey squirrel. Training never stops and most days when we go out there is a session of training, all of which is, wrapped up as a game and a fun thing to do. Also long summer walks to keep us both fit, well assuming that is, that we get a summer.