3 February 2017

Pheasants

Out walking in the nearby Mayfield Valley this afternoon, I was startled by a cock pheasant. He squawked from undergrowth at the side of the path before running off. I have had similar surprises many times when out rambling. In the English countryside, pheasants seem to be everywhere.

I always think of common pheasants as particularly stupid birds which is probably a tad unfair. The male of the species has beautiful plumage while the female's dun feathers are designed for camouflage. The fact that they have been able to spread across our green and pleasant land demonstrates that they are not as dumb as they appear.
Pheasants are not native to The British Isles. Originally, they were confined to eastern regions of Asia. It is not known for certain how they arrived on our shores but generally it is believed that they were brought over during the Roman occupation of Britain. Perhaps Roman soldiers simply wanted to supplement their monotonous diets. They also introduced rabbits and sweet chestnuts.

Thousands of pheasants are shot every year by bloodthirsty field "sports" enthusiasts armed with shotguns. Though there's not a large amount of meat on your average bird, roasted pheasant is certainly tasty. In spite of the widespread annual killing, our country is still home to millions of pheasants. Plenty are specially bred for shooting but many thousands survive in the wild.

As I walked along Mark Lane by Mill View Farm, I spotted a second cock pheasant in a tussocky field up wind from me. He didn't spot me as he strutted nervously, sometimes stopping to observe his environment and to emit his characteristic chortled echo of a mating call. Naturally, I took the opportunity to shoot... some photographs..

28 comments:

  1. The male is much more colourful than the female, isn't he? We had a female in our back yard a couple of weeks ago. Unlike you, we rarely see them here, and to see one in town is even rarer. Maybe that's why we don't have pheasant hunters and pheasant dinners here :) Nice shots, YP.

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    1. I wonder how the hell they flew across The Atlantic or maybe they swam from Asia to Alaska and then hitch-hiked to Canada.

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  2. Wow, my brother! Beautiful. You need to paint a watercolor of him standing in the grasses.

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    1. Well...I just might give it a try sis.

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  3. Handsome aren't they?

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    1. Yes but Yorkshire pheasants are more good looking than Wiltshire ones.

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  4. I often see pheasants here...darting across the laneway to the tree and shrub covered vacant property opposite my cabin. The ones hereabouts (the ones I've seen, anyway) are the Pheasant Coucal (not as elaborate as the one you photographed...I think that is a ring-neck, isn't it?). The ones I've seen around this property are a brown, speckled bird. The birds were originally introduced here, too, from Asia.

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    1. The one I snapped is known simply as The Common Pheasant. I didn't realise you had wild pheasants in Australia.

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    2. We've a few varieties here in Aus, Yorkie. (I've also seen quails scampering about this property, too...but I've not seen any for a while).

      This site might be of interest to you...

      http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-08/pheasant-hunters-descent-on-king-island-for-annual-shoot/652998

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  5. How beautiful! I agree that you should paint them next!

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    1. Like I said to Mama Thyme...I might give it a try Jennifer.

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  6. Beautiful pattern on the plumage.

    Alphie

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  7. They are lovely aren't they? I didn't know they were not native to Britain or rabbits also. You learn something every day !!

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  8. He's rather lovely!

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    1. Even dumb creatures can be handsome.

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  9. The cock pheasant keeps well under cover. You got some great shots of this attractive bird.

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    1. Thanks Red. As a birdman, I thought you would like those pictures.

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  10. We always have them eating at our bird table and I am pleased to say they are safe now for another year unless they are daft enough to walk in front of a lorry. (not unknown)

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    1. Pheasants make crows look like members of MENSA.

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  11. And then there is the pheasant plucker...

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    1. It would be easy to get those two words mixed up. This would cause embarrassment at a cocktail party or bridge evening.

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  12. They are common in New Zealand was well. One would fly from cover first thing in the morning right past my window: they can make a very loud call as they do and sometimes it was quite a disturbing way to be woken up. Oddly I was commenting on the way back from Inverness the other day just how many there were and how many had been killed on the road. I've never hit one but my son made a fair mess of the front of his vehicle's bonnet when he did. Oddly I can't ever recall seeing one on Lewis. I must check on that.

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    1. Perhaps you could introduce a couple of mating pairs to Lewis. Soon there'd be more pheasants than Presbyterians.

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  13. I don't think I've ever seen a pheasant stand still long enough so I could observe and appreciate his feathering. Thank you for the nice photos.

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    1. No, they are normally very nervous and eager to get away.

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