The snow has been and gone up on the hill. The expanses of standing molinia grass have been flattened by the first drifts and some of the young scots pine trees have had their branches snapped off under the weight of the snow. Although I missed the first morning after the snow fell because I was in Yorkshire, I still found a multitude of tracks over the next few days and I now have a good plan for a snaring regime over Christmas and into New Year when I have the time.
I bumped into a fox this morning up on the hill, a frantic ball of orange amongst the rushes. It caught my eye for a moment before vanishing again, only to reappear one hundred yards further up the cleugh. Inevitably, I was carrying the shotgun. If I had had the rifle, it would have been curtains…
Foxes are set to be the main target of next year’s gamekeeping offensive. I’ve recently come into possession of some gadgetry which should turn the tables to my advantage like never before, so watch this space as 2012 approaches. It’s almost as if the Chaye was specifically designed to be a safehouse for foxes, with long grass to hide in, open hillsides to keep a good lookout and adjacent forestry if a speedy getaway is called for. So far, I haven’t made much of an impact on the red offenders, but that is set to change.
In the meantime, the black grouse are staying up the hill, away from their summer haunts. One greyhen looks rather like she has been taking from my feed hoppers, but until I actually see her doing it, I can’t say for certain. It could be that she is just picking up scraps that the pheasants have left, but it’s perfectly possible she’s feeding herself from the nozzles.