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General > Water, Water everywhere!
Water, Water everywhere!
Morning flight of Saturday the 14th was no exception. Rolo and I were grimly seeking shelter from the maelstrom, behind a large stone groyne that aims to divert the riparian flow of the river out into the centre of the bay. The rocks afforded some protection from the incessant sheets of driving rain but most importantly, good cover for the fowler from the watchful eyes of wildfowl. The tide had long ebbed leaving the estuary looking drenched and desolate. Dark and moody nimbostratus hastily scudded low overhead as the wind mercilessly drove mud spattered foam across the flats. This was Nature untamed! This is the fowlers world! Experience knew that the prospects were slim this morning, but a wildfowler is an eternal optimist. Eyes remained forever vigilant, scanning the sky, the tideline and the vast expanse of mudflats in front for even the faintest glimpse of flighting fowl. The startling overhead appearance of pack of Curlew suddenly threw the body into a violent spasm as if jolted by some unforeseen invisible hand. Spectral cries, wrenched from gritted throats, ridiculed the lone figure below them, as they speedily glided past; these were the phantoms of the marshes. The body muscles relaxed, the heart beat slowed and the grip lessened on the auto. Damn it! Just where are the wildfowl?! Cursing the Curlews fine trickery under a sardonic grin, my eyes unexpectedly converged on two quickly approaching forms skimming the channel to my left. Bloody hell! Incoming wigeon! A pair were being buffeted sideways, fifteen feet above the spray-swept mudflats. Their current flight path would convey them straight over us! The cock bird seemed outlandishly colourful against the iron-grey back drop of the estuary and it was to him my attention was immediately focussed. Wheeoooo Wheeoooo, the brass charm resounded. Fifty yards and still coming .forty, thirty, twenty-five ..now!! The pair never faltered. Two swiftly directed charges of Steel 3s had both birds simultaneously cart wheeling into the river channel in front of me for a lovely executed right and left. Rolo dived into the water with gusto for the double retrieve. With the hen wigeon to hand, he exploited the current to take him quickly to the second bird, and, turning hard, he battled powerfully against the strong outflow. Hes a formidable swimmer and within minutes he had powered his way back to the rocky outcrop launching himself at me with the cock wigeon held triumphantly aloft. The November duck drought was finally broken! It had been well worth the recent fruitless efforts for this single magic moment. Tucking both wigeon carefully inside my jacket pocket I looked out across the estuary at a slowly intensifying glimmer of light on the distant horizon. Momentarily the wind had died, the rain had actually stopped but now was the perfect time for us both to leave our waterlogged refuge and head homeward towards the seawall.
Stotty Paddlesdown Wildfowling Prostaff
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