Saturday May 14th 2011: … is a big old pheasant who patrols the pasture east of the North Pond and also a large part of the lagoon field; he is a fine specimen. I haven’t given any of the other marsh animals a name – it’s not what I do. I haven’t considered pheasants capable of exhibiting any form of interesting character trait. Pheasants are severely lacking in the brain department – apparently, not all of them can be painted with such a broad brush.
To my mind this pheasant is such a character that he deserves a name. I didn’t think too hard about it: one evening he was ‘that darn pheasant over there,’ and the next he was ‘that poncey pheasant over there.’ What captured my interest was his ostentatious behaviour, his brashness and his refusal to be startled into rashness. Most pheasants would be up in the air and squawking nineteen to the dozen as soon as they hear an unfamiliar sound. Poncey, on the other hand, just quietly disappears and reappears in a different location.
Poncey struts about with a slow deliberate gait and his head held high. He walks with a swagger and his feet move in slow motion; in fact, he moves just like the animated pheasant in the Famous Grouse whiskey advertisement. I even saw him do a little foot shuffle, once – can you believe it? He has a very short, strident, and confident call. I hear him from all over the north marsh, and when I am in Hoo Wood. I can see him when I’m in Hoo Wood. I imagine him shouting: ‘Here I am girls!’ ‘C’mon, where are the girls?’ ‘Bring on the girls!’ ‘I’m the daddy!’ There isn’t another pheasant on the marsh that can top this old boy.
I think Poncey is definitely top of the tree in the marsh pheasant hierarchy. I might be making him sound like a slow old bird, but he is anything but slow. If another cock pheasant strays into his territory, he goes berserk and ousts the intruder in double-quick time. This pheasant doesn’t take any messing. Foxes don’t worry him, either; he shouts at them, shows them his backside and runs – probably whilst shouting, ‘C’mon, catch me if you can!’ I have tried many times to get close enough to steal his full frame image, but he is far too smart and too quick. The photograph at the top of this blog doesn’t do him justice, but I will get a proper close-up image of him – if only for the challenge.