Avian Flu Measures – Updated

BASC and DEFRA have both released statements this week on the potential for Avian influenza strain HPAI entering the UK.

While the current risk is low, this is a deadly virus to wildfowl, as well as humans.  It is transmitted with close contact to birds.

“BASC urges members that particular care should be taken with bio-security and to report sightings of unusual behaviour in wild birds or if you find dead wild waterfowl (swans, geese or ducks) or gulls, or 5 or more dead wild birds of other species in the same location, you should report them . Defra’s telephone helpline number is 03459 33 55 77 and members in Northern Ireland should contact the DAERA Helpline on 0300 200 7840.”

Please follow the links below to the update pages for BASC and DEFRA.



Update as of 22 December 2016

**After a positive case of the H5N8 strain of the virus has been confirmed in a wigeon in Carmarthanshire, DEFRA have updated their guidance.  Please click here https://basc.org.uk/blog/avian-flu/avian-flu-update-following-spread-disease-31-dec/ **

Return Of The Picker Upper

Pond Shoot 24th September 2016

With the success of last weeks flight on our other pond still fresh in our minds tonight finds us in the reed beds again. Another early season sold flight that has contributed greatly to welcome and much needed funds in the Club coffers via our recent and successful online Auction.

This time a team of three guns and a lady picker up had travelled south from deepest darkest Shropshire to sample the delights of duck flighting in Somerset. Following the customary introductions and safety briefs we took the short walk from our parking spot to the pond. As we arrived a cloud of duck, mostly if not all Mallard, erupted from the pond. Converging into one pack they gained height followed the railway line and disappeared from sight. We all stopped to watch them away and wondered as much as hoped that they would perhaps return at dusk.

Ten more paces and the same happened again. This time Teal. Perhaps thirty or more. Though these left the area to every direction in the small packs they’d lifted in, not taking the time or effort to bunch together as one.

Guns settled into their hides as pickers up concealed them selves in convenient vegetation well back from the waters edge. Several packs of duck, all Mallard began to skirt the area without really offering a shot. Then odd single birds appeared, low and direct with some splashing down on the pond unsaluted. Next a pack of five came high and wide but ventured close enough to the end gun for him to chance his luck and we were off the mark! The drake spiralled down sixty yards to my right and not quite dead. I put a dog on it straight away rather than risk losing it. Two minutes later the little bitch was back and we had our first duck of the night to hand.

Following the opening shots the sky was suddenly full of duck. Most were high but shoot able with many staying just that little bit wide. Others circled before disappearing in the direction of Nailsea. Non the less there was some decent shooting and slowly we began to build a bag.

As the light failed in the western sky there was a little lull in proceedings. Where we’d had fifteen minutes of constant ducks in the air, as darkness approached all was still. Not even a blackbird called in the sedges and even the corvids were noticeable by their absence. Other creatures were abroad though as a badger came blundering through the undergrowth momentarily terrifying the lady picker up and very nearly bumping into me and my dogs!
As the day was almost done, once again the duck arrived in numbers. Teal could be heard whistling in all directions but not seen as they came low and fast. As always Mallard were more accommodating. Coming high and silhouetted against the thickening evening cloud before dropping noisily towards the water. Guns rang out but the shooting was much more difficult now and cartridge to kill ratios began to rise. With duck still coming in the whistle sounded to bring the evening to an end.

We all met at the waters edge to quickly discuss the nights events and commence the picking up. Several birds were on and around the pond and dogs could be heard splashing in the shallows and being encouraged across to the island whilst others combed the surrounding rushes.

Back at the vehicles with everybody accounted for and safe a quick count up revealed 17 in the bag. All Mallard but as always claims of last light teal on the lips of the guns. There were theory’s there may be one or two more but in the main most felt all birds down were accounted for. Even so plans were laid for a daylight sweep the following morning just to be sure.

As with last weeks flight the guns were ecstatic. They’d seen a lot of duck, fired a few shots and all had duck to take back up the M5. What more could they ask for?

A Picker Up’s Point Of View

Pond Shoot 13 September 2016

As guest guns, pickers up and organisers gathered in the car park the autumn sun was just dropping to the distant skyline. Even so the  temperature on the truck thermometer read a balmy 24 degrees. Thankfully a stiff south westerly breeze was blowing to help it feel a little cooler and keep the biting insects away.

Following a quick introduction and safety brief we were off. Guns to the pond, helpers and their dogs to the surrounding fields to hide themselves in hedgerows and any other convenient cover. The three quarter moon was already up in the east but obscured by thickening cloud. To the west the sun was setting over the M5 in a final blaze of glory. It was with some trepidation we awaited the arrival of the first duck. These guns had bought the flight in the Clubs recent online auction. They’d paid well for their evening and we were hoping to put on a good display.

Soon after we’d all settled in and long before any duck showed the wind dropped and the mosquitos, horseflies and midges arrived. I’ve no idea what it was like for the guns but trying to keep still and undetected by approaching wildfowl was proving difficult for man and dog alike away from the pond itself. Despite the temperature I finally gave in and put a long sleeved jacket on. I’m afraid the dogs just had to put up with it.

We weren’t waiting long and the first pair of duck appeared from the south east. They crossed the pond high, very high I thought and were saluted by a double shot. Unperturbed they dropped a wing and left on the same line they had approached on in an almost unhurried fashion. Not long after a small group appeared from the same direction and this time crossed the centre of the pond. These were a little lower, not by much but lower non the less. Four shots rang out and a bird planed out to splash down on the 10ft river 200yds away. I saw the picker up covering that area leave his position and start to search for it. As another pair approached lower and this time from the east their chatter gave them away as Gadwall. Three times they appeared to cross the pond but not a shot was fired and they finally drifted off towards Clevedon. Not long after a singleton suddenly appeared from nowhere. He flew the length of the pond climbing all the time. A volley of shots rang out but his luck ended as he crossed the final gun. The last shot of the flurry sent him spiralling into the reed filled ditch behind.

Then began a short lull and we were back wondering and hoping that that wasn’t the end. The sun had finally dipped below the horizon and the wind had picked up again. Not as strong as before but welcome non the less. The moon was finally peeping out from behind the quickly dispersing cloud and adding to the last light of the evening. All of a sudden the air was full of chattering duck. I couldn’t see them until two packs converged high, directly over head. As they approached the pond they split again with a small group of 6 or 7 dropping into the pond. Shots rang out and I marked 4 birds down. We were off!

Duck appeared from every and any direction. Some in pairs, some in small packs with a few larger packs of 15-20. The bigger packs appeared warier and took longer and further to circle the pond before committing. At the same time I could see several groups of birds approaching low from the car park, brushing the treetops and dropping in with no chance of being shot. By now our team of guns had their eye in and each pack left one or two of its members behind.

At very last light, almost to dark to see other than in the last chink of light blue in the western sky I heard the familiar whistle of teal. Then all of a sudden they could be heard calling in every direction and a pack of six whizzed low over my head. I lost them in the gloom but the guns saw them and the pond erupted to a volley of shots quickly followed by another. For five minutes or more it was pandemonium. There was a tearing of wings and an odd whistle followed by yet more shooting. I’m guessing the evenings cartridge to kill ratio was somewhat worse than before the teal decided to put on a display.

As the whistle went I’d counted 22 duck down not counting the early bird that had glided into the 10ft. I cast the dogs into the nearby field and reed bed, both immediately returned with duck. The next cast produced a teal from the flooded ditch with another mallard being found much further back than I’d marked it. As I progressed around the field I was happy that I’d collected all that had fallen in my allocated space but kept thinking about that first high bird of the evening. It had crashed into the ditch directly behind the gun and I’m sure it was dead. I knew he had a dog but wanted a look anyway. A quick sweep around the pond and we found it. Stone dead and as stiff as a board! Hard to believe it had been dead little over an hour.

By the time I got back to the car park most had drifted away. The bag was 22 mallard and 3 teal and the guns had apparently been over the moon with their evening. Well done to all involved who made the evening a huge success.

Clay Time Over

That’s the last of our clay shoots over for the year.  Some were better shots than others.  Some drank tea and shot the breeze.

Strong winds didn’t hinder the 35 plus members taking part.

Well done to the clay section of Clevedon Wildfowlers for all the hard work they have put in.

Water Safety

We are very sad to hear the news of the family in Cornwall today.  With them in mind it’s worth reminding ourselves that water is force.  Please follow the link to the RNLI’s website and read up on water safety.


While the website mentions direct waters sports and angling it’s worth noting for wildfowlers.

  • Take the risks as seriously as you take your sport. Prepare for every trip.
  • Check the weather and tides before heading to the coast.
  • Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back.
  • Carry a means of calling for help and know how to use it.
  • If unsure of the foreshore coastline go in pairs.

The Severn Estuary has one of the highest tidal ranges in the world, up to 48 ft (15 m), stay safe this season.

Prey or predator?

After checking on our new releases we have discovered some additional hunters lurking.  While we sure that they are Mink not Otter we have placed humane cages traps to see what we are attracting.  As the traps are going off and the bait is being eaten, whatever is lurking in the reeds has exceptional hunting skills.

Humane Mink Trap

120 Ducks went swimming one day…

The last of this year’s ducks have been released.

Duck ringing (14)

Some ducks are happy for you to put a ring on

120 ducks have all been ringed and placed into a secure ponds along with our previous releases.  This is part of an ongoing conservation project to provide long term sustainability to management of club land.  Maintaining the local population of mallard and increasing nesting areas for future generations.

Duck ringing (26)

Members working together to ring the ducks