After griping about a shortage of snow, it finally came to Galloway today with quite a bump. We haven’t had anything like the devastating snow-pocalypse as seen in the south of England, but a good four inches fell this afternoon and drifted into some fairly respectable heaps wherever the steady south easterly wind allowed it to gather. Ironically, this was the day I had planned to shoot some of the pheasant cocks which have been hanging around and starting to think of settling down, so in blizzard conditions the day was undertaken anyway.
I’ve been seeing a good number of woodcock during the last week since the ground has been hard, and I wonder how they’ve been faring. Seeing them during the day time is never a good thing, and I think it’s time to give them a break until the weather thaws. There will probably be a legal ban brought in soon if it stays as cold as it has been, but I think I will throw in the towel with woodcock for now unless things start to warm up before the end of the season. Inevitably, the snow lifted them out of the rushes where they have been lying up for the past few days and pushed them off somewhere else. We only saw two woodcock all day, and only one of them was in range for a shot.
As the day went on, the snow really started to come down. Great swirling gusts came blasting over the dykes and down through the sitka tops, and it gathered in strange shapes out in the open fields where the wind had a good run-up to work its strange business. With a couple of cock pheasants in the bag, we went down to the forest to see what happens to flighting woodcock when there’s snow on the ground, only to learn that the answer is nothing. We waited until the snow froze on the barrels of our guns, but only a single bird was seen for a second between the flakes.
Some pretty handy offroad driving skills were called for on the return journey back down the hill, when the snow had drifted to the height of the axles and the steering wheel became a floppy, useless ornament. My enduring impression of the day is that each year I look forward to snow and each year I rediscover how irritating it is.