First casualty

Leica Amplus 6

Malxwal

Well-Known Member
350 pheasants home on Saturday, small fry to some of you lads I know. I was quite happy they survived their first 48 hours in the pens considering it hammered rain on Sunday.
Checking the pens this evening found one with it's head pulled off through the chicken wire, and the body still reasonably warm and supple, so it must have happened this avo. I've known owls to take heads off and leave bodies, but wondering what else would do this in daytime and not bother trying to pull the carcass through the wire, or eat it through the wire like a mink might ?
 

perdix

Well-Known Member
I had a similar problem on a couple of occasions.
The first time the culprit was a muckle great hedgehog and the second time it was a bitch stoat.
​The staot was killing them in the middle of the pen and then dragging them to the wire but was unable to get them through the wire so she would then go back in and kill another!
 

Malxwal

Well-Known Member
We used to lose them in the pen when there was no net above them, and we've always been led to believe owls were the culprit.
There are also a family of foxes about half a mile away, but they seem to be feeding out of a barley park and an area of un harvested crop. I have them on the to-do list for this week.
There are feral and farm cats in the area, trail cam is up to see what's going about.
 

Malxwal

Well-Known Member
Aye, once I made the spend on a trail cam, I realised I want loads of them, handy for all sorts, have to check on the progress of the bulk buy thread.
We've definitely got owls here, frequently disturbed on shooting days, but didn't think they'd be active on a sunny afternoon.
Anyway, hopefully the cam will tell all.
 

Robin

Well-Known Member
If, as you say, they are dead lodged against the wire, I would look at feral cats first, Having had three one year all caught in mink traps set with food on the edge of the pen. Afterwards the problem stopped, In the pen itself headless generally means Tawnies in my experience.
Trail cam sounds like a very good idea.
Just as a bye if you want a pen net I am selling one it's in the classified.:)
 

Malxwal

Well-Known Member
Cheers folks. Pens are all netted over the top, no access/exit into pens except the main door for us, so no predation from above like you see once the nets are off.
I'd set traps, but the proximity of a cottage (whose cat would never do anything like that, it's an old cat etc etc) means I could end up with more bother than a headless poult.
 

Willie

Well-Known Member
Hi Malxwal,

think yourself lucky you have only lost 1 poult. My friend has a small shoot approximately 600 birds spread over 2 pens and he has lost around 90 poults to stoats all off of 1 pen despite putting out tunnel traps.

Willie
 

howy308

Well-Known Member
Have you got the rat population under control? Good luck with them everyone knows pheasants die for every reason possible and also just because they want to.
 

Willie

Well-Known Member
Howy308,

There are some rat holes in the vicinity of the pen but didnt think that they would kill poults. Haven't caught any in the traps but have caught 2 stoats but still finding some dead pouts in the pen (bob holes now open). Post mortem showed bite marks on back of neck otherwise OK. Assume this is stoats or weasels.

Willie
PS your right pheasants are the lemmings of the bird world and will find any method to commit suicide.
 

Malxwal

Well-Known Member
Losing 90 is sore, especially if you've traps out and still not getting the culprits. We lost around 50 in the first weekend a couple of years ago due to bad weather (and I suspect weak birds that hadn't been hardened off).
Well so far only one more dead poult, which just keeled over, no foul play involved.
If we make it to Saturday night without losing any more it will be an all time high, but I won't be under any illusion that the death toll will stop there.
Cam is yet to show any predators prowling, live catch traps are going in, although they'll take a while to work if at all.
 
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Malxwal

Well-Known Member
Well, so much for making it to Saturday...
Not an actual casualty yet, but some birds managed to find an escape route in one pen, into waist high fairly thick cover. Got some back, but have had to put feeders and drinkers out for the escapees remaining at large. Pretty much guaranteed one or more wont make it through the night...
Not a happy chappy.
 

Willie

Well-Known Member
Hi Malxwal,

As long as the birds have learned to roost in the trees they should be OK.

The other shoot i help at don't put a net over the pen and keep the pop holes open and always put one feeder and water outside before birds are put in. The birds call the escapees back and they circle the pen until they find the holes.

Willie
 
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