Monday, 23 January 2012

'Man the hunter'

In this afternoon's beautiful weather a friend and I set out along the river towards a field where I knew we would see red-legged partridges. I don't imagine I've ever spent this long in the UK in January without seeing one. What we had not counted on seeing was the partridges hurtling to earth as they flew over waiting guns and hitting the ploughed mud in pathetic puffs of exquisitely-marked feathers.

Some words from Sir Peter Scott, five of whose beautiful Wetland Centres I have visited in the past ten days, on his gradual conversion from wildfowler to conservationist:

I have taken a wildfowler round the pens of the Wildfowl Trust and heard him say when a flock of Snow Geese came low over his head - "My word, I could knock a couple of those down." When those same Snow Geese landed at our feet and walked up to feed from my hand I could sense that he was very much ashamed of the remark. The expression suggests a blunt stick to beat the beautiful birds out of the sky. Are these phrases the healthy symptoms of 'man the hunter' or something less healthy; or are they perhaps quite superficial - a relic of the tradition which has persisted from the time when the only reaction to a bird (more particularly if it was rare) was to fetch a gun and kill it?

Peter Scott
The Eye of the Wind 


red-legged partridge
Alectoris rufa

2012 Totals
Mammals: 9
Birds: 108
Reptiles: 0
Amphibians: 0
Fish: 0

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