Pheasants have been part and parcel of our garden for several years. We kept hens and ducks for years and it seems that their presence attracted them to the garden. When we began providing food for them they continued to visit and even became quite tame, some even eating from the hand. They seemed to spend most of their time in the garden; they would be around us as we worked and would run to us for food.
This closeness to a wild bird was very enjoyable. We enjoyed their presence, watching them about the garden, and they thrived on the food supplied. One annual event which we enjoyed very much was the return of the hens with their new chicks. The cock would stay with us all through the summer but the hens would depart in early summer to appear again later in the season with their chicks. We had ten hens in the garden all over last winter so we imagined the return with chicks this year would be a flock. An average brood seems to be around five and so ten hens with five chicks each would be a flock of sixty – quite a few mouths to feed.
However, the days of summer passed and there was no reappearance. We feared for our “pets” and wondered if some mishap had befallen them – our local fox is also a very regular visitor to the garden and is, no doubt, partial to pheasant when the opportunity arises. I heard chicks, about a month ago, in the barley field around the garden but saw none until yesterday and today.
At long last, a hen has returned with five chicks. I saw them today while cutting the grass but mother was nervous and skittish and put the chicks to the shelter of the yew hedges as soon as I approached. She and they will become braver as the days pass and they associate me with their meals. In the meantime I will be content with glimpses from the windows – please, forgive the poor quality of some of these photographs which were taken using my ‘phone.