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Monday, 7 December 2009

The Pitsford Reservoir Ruddy Duck cull

This took place on the Wildlife Trust Reserve at Pitsford Water owned by Anglian Water on 2nd December. The 7 marksmen each arrived in a large 4x4 vehicle each with a trailer and a boat. An eighth vehicle contained a few other people assisting with the shoot.

It was a very murky start to the morning and the boats roared into the Scaldwell Bay just before 9am 7 abreast. There were plenty of shots ringing out I lost count after 50, dead and dying birds were retrieved from the water using a landing net. Then the Walgrave Bay was swept, with the aid of flushers at the back of the bay. More shots rang out. Then back to the Scaldwell Bay, then a break for a bite to eat in front of the fishing lodge. The day brightened as the mist cleared. Both the above bays were swept again 3 times more, it was now midday. I was amazed and pleased to see that at least 5 Ruddy Ducks were still alive when I had to leave. Did they later succomb as the total culled was 28?

The large number of wintering wildfowl were of course going loopy, many of the diving ducks found refuge over the causeway up towards the dam but a lone yatchsman sailed right down to the causeway late morning and consequently flushed most of the ducks back over the causeway. Any Ruddy Ducks that chose to dive were soon polished off, only those weakly flying off with the other diving ducks stood any chance of survival.

Only the reserve side was targetted, the "public" side of the reservoir was not entered by the shooters. Presumably it either was not worth it or it is too much trouble to keep the public out, the cyclists and fishermen might complain. The fact that the reserve is a SSSI home to internationally important numbers of wildfowl doesn't matter.

Rutland Water also owned by Anglian Water and a SSSI reserve doesn't allow the cull to place there (contributed by Bob Bullock, who served as Northamptonshire County Recorder for nearly 20 years).