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Retail Therapy

A good haul
A good haul

It was a fantastic weekend at the Perth Game Fair, with incessant sunshine and some great things to see and do. The Heather Trust stand was well attended, and some of the visitors had useful (although tragic) stories to tell about heather beetle outbreaks, particularly in Caithness and Sutherland. Interestingly, one visitor who lost more than two thousand acres of heather and felt so overwhelmed by the damage that he resigned himself to losing his grouse altogether has found three years after the outbreak that the heather is on its way back without any help. In the case of heather beetle damage, it’s always difficult problem if only because treatments vary so widely. It’d be lovely to say “if you’ve had heather beetle damage, the answer is to…”, but as much as we are starting to find ways of patching up beetle damage, it is clearly sometimes the case that the moor will just look after itself and new heather plants will come through without any problem. It seems as though “doing nothing” is sometimes a management option, although having seen some moors North and South of the border who did nothing and have now lost everything, it is clearly a difficult and risky decision. Work continues at Heather Trust HQ to gather information…

Taking the opportunity to indulge in some retail therapy, I spent a fair bit of money. Impressed by the “new” 50Kg partridge tub feeder, I bought one of those unassuming little black bins and am keen to put it through its paces. I like the low profile, the wide rain guard and the fact that cock partridges will almost certainly want to pop up on the roof to keep an eye on things. I want to try one on the fringes of the game crop with a turf spread over the roof so that it blends in with the background and provides the birds with a secure little feed station.

After a certain amount of humming and ha-ing, I also plumped for some new footwear in the form of a pair of black-islander boots. I’ve been dithering about a pair of meindl boots for several months, but when they were sold out at the black-islander stall and a clever salesman saw me coming, I made alternative arrangements. Given that I’m such a lazy git, the idea of low-maintenance boots certainly did appeal, and as much as I love the meindl, I just know that I wouldn’t have the patience to look after them and make them last. I’m pretty impressed with the black islanders at the moment, although it has been far too hot to even consider putting them on. They are coated with something like kevlar so that they are more or less indestructible – ideal for someone who wears big boots almost every day without ever really having the time to take care of them. I wore them out last night when I was lamping, but aside from getting out of the jeep to open a few gates, I can’t honestly say that I’ve given them a fair crack at the whip. More information will doubtless follow, particularly since the grouse counting season approaches.

I also picked up a new water bottle for the ferrets, a bag of birches from the Scottish Woodland Trust and a half share in a book about muntjac deer, which I will get hold of once my friend has finished reading it. All in all, it was a thoroughly worthwhile weekend, but it does give me some reservations about heading down to the CLA game fair at the end of this month. There is only so much punishment my plastic card can take…

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