Around the GWCT shoots this Spring

GWSDF Auchnerran Shoot

With the successful establishment of the farm’s first kale crops in 2019, the same game cropping programme will be adopted in 2020. This involves two Alba mixes for the shoot’s main covers, three
Highland wild bird seed mixes and one species rich grassland plot, all kindly supported by Kings Crops.

Rabbit fencing will be erected around the unfenced game crop plots and the existing netting checked for any breaches. The farm team will need to keep an eye on our breeding wader nest sites as the cultivated game strips create optimum nesting habitat, particularly for our lapwing and oystercatchers. Corvid control will be of paramount importance at this time of year as fox control is expertly handled by the grouse keepers on the surrounding estates. Decoying rooks, jackdaws and carrions will be our main focus

Allerton Project Shoot, Loddington

We have counted game and wildlife on this site since 1992 and we urge all shoots to carry out monitoring as natural capital becomes yet another buzz word to add to our dialogue with policy makers. Using independent third parties has much merit for demonstrating the benefits that good game shooting can deliver for wider wildlife.

The end of the season signals the start of woodland thinning and replanting to improve and maintain woodland habitat which also benefits migratory warblers. Our stewardshipscheme expires in 2020 so we need to ensure that the new scheme delivers for wildlife and also provides a financial benefit.

Stewardship plays an important part for wildlife throughout the year, but many people overlook the use of wild bird seed mixes and well chosen pollen and nectar for holding and showing gamebirds. Integrating stewardship into our game covers delivers many benefits and a reduction in maize and associated species such as rats and corvids can only be a good thing

Rotherfield Shoot

The post-harvest wild game counts reflected the poor weather in June with a total of 63 grey partridges, 119 redlegs and 396 pheasants. The 600-tagged cock pheasant poults are released in August/September which allow us to hold 10 to 12 shoot days, with a mixture of walked-up and driven days, along with three spaniel days.

The shoot season went well and we were pleased to see the first pair of grey partridges in December, lots of hares and a good show of woodcock were also seen on the driven days. Along with many areas of England, the very wet autumn with more than 555mm of rain since the end of harvest, has made it very difficult for drilling winter crops on the farm. Let’s hope we have a drier spring.

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