Monday, 11 April 2011

Reeve's Pheasant's are naughty

After Saturday's wonderful walk across Ham Hill in east Wiltshire, yesterday in the fabulous spring sunshine we spent 3 hours walking across Fyfield Down near Marlborough. We met friends of Julie's at the Polly Tearoom's in Marlborough to discuss where to go for a walk, while having a coffee. Such a civilised start to a day.

Mentioning that Fyfield Down was just a stone's throw away brought favourable comment from the massed ranks and so the scene was set for our walk, and a picnic. I did however also mention to those who'd listen that it was a good spot to see migrating ring ouzel as they passed through on migration. Of course that wasn't my motive for going there, honest, it wasn't. Thus, armed with a picnic from Waitrose (sandwiches and chocolate), we headed off in the hot spring sunshine.

Fyfield Down is a National Nature Reserve, primarily due to thousands of sarcen stones littering the grassland, a result of the last glacial period. In the past the whole area looked like the photo above, but in the middle of the 20th Century scrub clearance opened up the site as a high plateau grass chalk downland. And very nice it is too.

At the top of the Down is a small wood, which yesterday offered some shade and respite from the sun, though the sun did allow the ride we walked along to be awash with brimstone and peacock butterflies.

In the middle of the wood we encountered some Reeve's pheasants. This is the first time I've seen these native game birds from China, they have stunning plumage and the male of the species holds the world record for the longest tail of any bird. However what we didn't realise are they are very aggressive towards humans.

As we walked through the wood they repeatedly ran towards us pecking our legs and boots, any effort to out pace them was matched by the birds doubling their efforts and attacking us even harder. It could have been quite intimidating if you were a small child or nervous but yesterday they were just a flippin nuisance.

Eventually though we escaped a little flustered but otherwise unhurt from the wood, but I have to say being attacked by such an impressive bird is a pleasure.

Sadly we never saw any ring ouzels, but a pair of ravens, green woodpecker and many other birds made this a day to remember.


  1. What an adventure! My Granddad would have loved the pheasants and so did I as a small boy in the early 70s at Gran and Granddads on a Sunday for dinner. I remember one sunday in particular, Granddad told us "this bird better taste good, cost me my job boy''! Turns out that whilst in charge of the local bus (his job) he had swerved to get a pheasant, then stopped to pic it up, this was a regular trick of his but sadly on this occasion a passenger had reported him.

  2. Quite an encounter Andrew! You got some good photos of the miscreants ;)

    I enjoyed your previous post also. Interesting info on the Oil Beetles and nice to see the Lizard.

  3. Hi James, oh dear that doesn't sound good what happened to your father. Good job he didn't hit these one's, the local shooting estate protect them apparently and have a flat rate £100 fine per bird on anyone who kills one.

    Miscreants is a good word Shysongbird, they were deadly.

  4. What a lovely walk and what pretty birds they are! We always pick up a 'Waitrose picnic' too - gone are the days when I make up sarnies for five of us before we even get out the door!

  5. Thank you Potterjotter - glad there's another Waitrose'r out there ;-)

    Thanks for the comment Thomas

  6. I saw Reeve's pheasants for the first time while walking near Corscombe in West Dorset on 24 June (Midsummer Day. There were several on a hillsiade. I got close up and personal but a large male seemed indifferent to me. They are certainly very attractive birds.