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From the Barrow Valley 5 - 04-03-21

From the Barrow Valley - 5

This time I have put in a few photos and a bit of commentary on what’s been happening in the past year or so.

I’ve put in two photos of club members, who worked incredibly hard at the start of  the racing season last year 2020, in fact we are blessed that we have so many members that were willing to help out in getting us off the ground, so to speak.

Michael Ramsbottom, pictured, was always first to the club, making sure that we had clean baskets ready and waiting for the start of marking each week, which were set up outside, when the weather permitted, Michael was the one who met members at the taped off section and took their baskets and helped mark their birds, amongst other jobs.

Race marking 2020 from the valley 5 04 03 21
Race Marking

Marguerite Keegan likewise was always on hand to take in and return members clocks having first treated them with sanitizer before and after the birds were marked, can I just say, at this point, that one of our members who wishes to remain anonymous, was so generous in providing all the PPE that we needed, including sanitizer, gloves, masks, wipes and lots more, all of which was deeply appreciated by all the club members. We are also very lucky, as can be seen in the photo, with the amount of space we have available for race marking and car parking, there were only four members allowed inside the exclusion zone, the rest stayed well back behind the tape in their cars until called upon to bring their birds forward.

Ready for Race marking. from the valley 5 04 03 21

Ready for race marking

Buzzards have become a huge problem here in Ireland, seeing as it is only ten or twelve years ago since the first arrivals were spotted around the countryside, before that, these birds were practically non-existent anywhere in the country, in fact I remember reporting my first sightings of them to a gamekeeper friend of mine in Scotland, his reply was that we would see one perched on every telegraph pole in the country and that if they happen to get a foot hold, we would be inundated with them within a matter of a few years, how right he was, in that prediction, I won’t tell you what he recommended, but I can tell you that it is way too late for that now.

Took this pigeon off of a Buzzard one morning in June 2020. from the valley 5 04 03 21
Took this pigeon off of a Buzzard one morning in June 2020

On the morning  after the second old bird race of the year, I was out driving the farm track, at the back of our house, checking on some of our released adult pheasants when I see a buzzard standing on what looked like a fresh kill. I thought it may have been a rat or a young rabbit, but on closer inspection I realised that it was a freshly killed pigeon, not mine, but one from the previous days racing, I imagine it was tired and was picking along the lane or maybe looking for a drink when it was attacked, still warm, its head had been removed and was completely plucked, alas all I could do was to bring it home and notify the owner through the union. Still on the subject of buzzards, during the year there were several reports on local radio of buzzards attacks on people, granted, most of them occurred during the nesting season, some attacks were on individuals that were either out walking or cycling, mostly along country laneways, of course there was no blame put on the buzzards, according to the do-gooders, it was all the fault of human trespass on the buzzards territory and no injury should be blamed upon the poor buzzards as they were only protecting “their” territory. Looking at the photo of that man’s head, you could just imagine the outcry if that injury was inflicted by a dog. Such is the world we live in now I‘m afraid.

Believe it or not the consequence of a Buzzard attack. Several of these have been reported in the media last year. from the valley 5 04 03 21
Buzzard Attack

Looking at the photo of the boys from Coleraine, Dominic Diamond, Terence McCrudden, & Paul o Connor and of course Damian Farrell from Wicklow brings back many happy memories for Marguerite and I as it was always a pleasure to have these boys down for the annual Alpine One loft race which was generally held in August each year, this photo is circa 2007/8 and on this occasion the weather was lovely, which is more than can be said for a few of the years that the race was on. I remember  on one occasion in 2005 I think, the rain that fell was so bad and so intense after we went in the Pub, “The Rowing Club“ on the quays in Carlow, that again it was time to go home we had to organise a JCB with a pallet on the front loader to get us all out of the pub, the water had risen on the quay by about five feet,  it was some craic to see all those guys from Plymouth on that front loader at two thirty in the morning trying to get home to their beds, all great fun and happy memories that I hope we can all get back to when this pandemic is over.

Taken at Alpine Lofts a few years ago l R Francis Corcoran Dominic Diamond Damien Farrell Terence McCrudden Paul o Connor. from the valley 5 04 03 21
Taken at Alpine Lofts a few years ago,[ l -R ] Francis Corcoran, Dominic Diamond, Damien Farrell, Terence McCrudden, Paul o Connor.

Finishing up with a couple of photos of the work that needs to be done each year in and around our little shoot, there’s always clearing to be done, and new walkways for the pheasants to feed on, most of this was done this year in isolation, it was absolutely beautiful up along the wood in the early part of the year, nice sunny and calm mornings that one could work away for hours without seeing a soul, however as the year went on and people got bored of sitting indoors, we started to notice more and more walkers on the woodland tracks, which is quite unusual in this neck of the woods, luckily ours is a sporting amenity and not a public amenity as such we had to sign post our intentions for the upcoming shooting season, thankfully the numbers walking gradually dropped so that by November 1 there were no walkers only shooters present in the woods after that. It’s good when everybody respects each other’s rights to carry out their chosen sport without hindrance, so all end well, for this year anyway.

Work never ends for the amature gamekeeper. from the valley 5 04 03 21    Making sure the public knows whats going on. from the valley 5 04 03 21
Work never ends for the amature gamekeeper.                        Making sure the public knows whats going on.

Well that’s it for this time. Keep safe & Good luck to you all.

Punch.