Country mouse on the cost of the cold

More purple prose has been spilt on the peregrine falcon than on any other bird, so you can imagine my pleasure in having a pair on my doorstep in London. For the past few years, they have nested on top of the huge chimney of Tate Modern, just across the street from my office, and have been busy terrifying the feral pigeons. I see them most days.

Back at home, the snowdrops are poking through. Their arrival means it’s almost the end of the shooting season, which began as the dahlias died off last autumn.

The final few days consist of beaters’ shoots, when the teams who have spent all winter driving game to the guns get their turn to do some shooting, and cocks-only days, where the ratio of males to females is put into a better proportion for the breeding season. If there are too many cocks, they end up disturbing the hens when they’re sitting.

The weather has played havoc with many shoots, but it is the finances of the hunts that have suffered most. Cancelled days mean no caps from the hunt followers, which, at about £70 per person per day for visitors, has added up to a whole lot of financial grief.

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