Country mouse on game birds

In late August, my herbaceous border starts to look a bit sorry for itself, and the vegetable garden has become an unruly mess of bolting fennel and lettuces. By this stage of the year, only the runner beans are really worth bothering with. It’s the twilight world between high summer and the glories of autumn. However, my thoughts have moved from the garden towards the fields and little woods.

Blackberries dot the hedges and the first clumsy pheasant poults are wandering aimlessly around their new surroundings and, all too often into the path of a car. This year, they will be joining far more of their wild cousins than normal. The wild game has had a terrific breeding year thanks to the dry weather in June, which saw the chicks survive their first few days without any death-inducing soaking.

On the moors, there are reports of vast numbers of grouse, which is good news, particularly if you’re a famed shot, as there will be great demand for you to reduce the numbers before the season ends on December 10. If too many grouse are left over, overcrowding will cause them to suffer from worms, which will eventually kill them. It’s a fact that shooting actually helps the overall population.