A bevy or bouquet of Pheasants
This is my favourite time of year for spotting Pheasants, particularly the males. Their colours take on a renewed vibrancy as they round up a bouquet of hens for the breeding season. They can be seen strutting their stuff in open fields or along roads and even the gardens of households. I always take them to be a very crafty bird. They seem to know when to disappear from the countryside as the first shots of shooting season are fired on November 1st. In particular, many call to the outlying houses of townlands as they often recognise these as places of safety from the gun during winter. Then when March 1st calls around and the last shot is fired, they are out again rounding up the ladies and styling proudly their magnificent and pompous plumage. While they are not native and originally came from Asia, they were first recorded here in around the fifteen hundreds I think, having been brought to Britain prior to this by the Romans. Growing up, I often had Pheasant for dinner. We usually had it roasted, fried, or stewed. And despite having to regularly spit out the lead shot, I always relished the meal, particularly when it was stew. However, I’ve not tasted Pheasant now in over twenty year. There is something about shooting these incredible birds for sport, that no longer sits well with me and despite having been offered a freshly shot male on several occasions since, I now always politely decline. Below are a few pictures we got over the past year on our boat trips in Carlow, Kildare, Kilkenny and Laois. While the pheasant population is comfortably high, I still never tire of spotting these beauties. If you are out rambling the fields over the next few weeks, be sure to keep an eye out for them. And be especially careful not to walk on or disturb a nesting female that has built her nest in a small pocket or dimple in the ground. Enjoy!