Keeping an eye on the bruised barley up at the flight pond, it’s obvious that I’ve had visitors. There are little passages through the weeds, and the floating feed has been pushed around and noticeably diminished when I go up each morning. There was a pair of mallard ducks on the pond yesterday morning, and three ducks and a drake this morning. This will only be a fraction of what’s going about, and I know that the smaller duck (wigeon and teal) always get off and back down onto the mud before daylight. There were wigeon on the estuary two days ago, but these guys usually shove off further south by the end of September, and the ones that stay until February only come in during the first week in November.
It’s early days for my little flightpond this season, but if it’s anything like as productive as it was last year, I’ll be looking forward to the last week of the season with some enthusiasm. If I could just work out why the pintail like it so much, I’d be very pleased. My experience of shooting pintail suggests that they are very picky birds, and they don’t really like to share with other species. Although I’ve shot lots of pintail flighting with wigeon and teal, I’ve never seen them when there are mallard around.
Wildfowling is largely a mystery to me, and pintail are some of the most mysterious birds you can deal with as a wildfowler. It so happens that I’ve stumbled on a few tricks over the past twelve years on the Solway which bring me in range of pintail, but the best way is to keep feeding my pond until the last night of the inland season without ever disturbing it, then have half an hour of cracking fun.