A PHEASANT landed in my garden today, drawn probably from the banks of the Lea and other rustic parts of north London by the table scraps I put out for robins, wrens and other birds. It could also be an escapee from private ownership.
Phasianus colchicus was first recorded in England in Norman times, and has spread throughout Britain. More recent introductions by those eagle-hating gamekeepers who farm the birds for the rifle-toting over-moneyed class (or, as some call them, the J Blunts) have resulted in the genes of several species contributing to what has become known as the Old English Pheasant.
The photographs I have taken give some credence to my claim of the bird’s appearance today in zone 2 of London; ie, near the heart of No 1 City. The pheasant spent 40 minutes eagerly feeding, without attracting the attention of the family of foxes snoozing behind a garden shed in their a few backyards away.
Those of you not of the vegetarian persuasion and tempted to bag a bird for the table should remember that the pheasant shooting season runs from 1 October 2010 to 1 February 2010 – the peasant shooting season, of course, runs year-round. Loving Dalston says: “Please lay down your pistols and your rifles*, as a barely remembered English pop group once sang.
David Altheer 110310
* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.
* © the Oldham, Lancashire immortals Barclay James Harvest