Up on the hill today, I flushed my favourite blackcock from a patch of heather overlooking the inbye fields. As soon as he was off the ground, it was obvious that something was wrong with him – his recently refurbished tail was almost entirely missing, and only the left outer tail covert remained. It was a windy day, and while I couldn’t get a close look, it was clear that something serious had happened to him.
The only explanation I can come up with for this sudden display of nudity is that he has had a run in with a fox and the red offender missed his mark by just a few inches. I need to get my act together. I’m sure that missing his tail coverts won’t hold him back, but knowing that he’s not due to grow any more until next August, he could be in for a draughty winter and an underwhelming spring.