Keepers’ role has been particularly challenging

Ewan Harris
Ewan Harris

Last May and June were bad news for all breeding birds as we went from an early spring full of long dry days to some of the most difficult ever.

It rained from when the birds were put in their pens and as the wet weather continued many were released much later than normal.

The rain also badly affected the nesting of wild birds and survival rates were drastically reduced. The wet weather forced birds to find deep shelter. They were not to be found where expected making a keeper’s role particularly challenging in many cases.

As a result, the overall quality of birds wasn’t good and every effort needs to be made to rectify it this year.

Good management now will make a considerable difference later and my recommendation to those in the industry is to take the following steps as soon as possible:

l Review your season to identify what did and didn’t work.

l Take a special note of how effective game crops such as kale were this season.

l Now is the time to consider long term crops such as canary grass which will do away with the annual challenge of having to sow plots.

l Given the hard time that wild game has had, it is important to boost breeding stocks by continuing to feed well into the spring. Make sure there is enough food for breeding birds and move feeders from woods to the woodland edge of hedges.

l Do all you can to protect wild game, particularly the iconic Grey Partridge. This is one of our oldest game birds and it has suffered very badly.

•Make sure that you provide a secure breeding area which offers as much protection from predators as possible.

Sales and Partners provide a full land management advisory service for estates and farms throughout the north of England the Borders.