A fox got into one of the rearing sheds early this morning and killed over 100 young pheasant poults. We're lucky in England that we haven't got the big predators like in the US, but fox, badger, stoats, weasels, and even rats do their fair share, not to mention sparrowhawks and buzzards. I found 6 buzzard kills in my own pen this morning.
Even though it's frustrating, you have to admire the predators. A buzzard is the master of the lazy kill: it will sit in a tree just worrying the pheasants who are too frightened to come out to feed or drink. This weakens the birds until the buzzard can just pick off the dead and dying at its leisure.
The sparrowhawk uses humans to its own benefit. This evening down at Hankmoor pen, the pheasants were whistling an alarm, and as we drove on we startled a sparrowhawk that was feeding on a fresh kill - it panicked a poult and drove it into the wire pen which ironically we put up to protect it.
I keep feeders full in the garden for the little birds that inhabit the hedgerows surrounding our house. The little birds do well and produce lots of chicks on this steady food source, but the activity and burgeoning community attracts the sparrowhawks which drop by everyday for a quick meal - the raptor equivalent of 'in & out burger'. It's sad to see a puff of feathers under the feeders but I guess everything has to eat.
Our friend Dave the diver dropped off some fresh sea scallops he harvested by hand on today's dive. As a child when it was my birthday, my mother would always make me my favorite meal which was the same every year: scallops in garlic butter and bread crumbs. I've shucked them all tonight and put them in the freezer. My 40th birthday is next month so I think, in keeping with tradition, that I shall save them for a special birthday dinner.
They were so fresh when I was shucking them, they were opening and snapping closed in the bowl. I was sorry to have to kill the little bivalves but everything has to eat, including me.