Despite not having gone according to plan, the game cover still seems to have some tricks up its sleeve. The radishes bolted up without producing any radishes, flowered copiously, then concentrated on filling out great big seed pods. By the time the seed pods were finished growing, the plants were so tall and spindly that all they could do was just fall over, making an odd sort of a spectacle, resembling no other game crop that I’ve ever seen before.
Not only did the flowers draw in a huge amount of insects and butterflies which in turn attracted a family of spotted flycatchers in early August, it seems now that the seed pods are actually producing viable feeding for a monstrous quantity of finches. When I go up to see the partridges, great packs of chaffinches whirr out of the undergrowth like starlings. Ok, so chaffinches are the most ridiculously abundant bird species, and their proliferation is hardly going to get me singing from the rooftops, but they’re not bad little birds and it’s good to see them thriving. Partridges and pheasants are eating the radish seeds too, and I think the rats may well be snaffling the odd seed pod and carrying it back to their shite encrusted little warren. Not a huge amount of luck with catching them yet, but moving the release pen a few yards over onto fresh ground and allowing a hyperactive labrador to dig up all their tunnels seems to have set them back a little.
There are still one or two flowers on the late radishes, and there are certainly thousands upon thousands of weird green chili-pepper shaped seed pods for the birds to keep working at as the winter goes on. As much as I didn’t really want the game cover to turn out this way, it’s actually been a bit of an odd success.