R.I.P Mr. Pheasant

At around 2pm today, I stood in the scorching heat of the South Riverside Pasture reviewing the herd’s grazing progress. Fifty feet away on the riverbank, a cock pheasant stood watching my every move. The cattle have greatly reduced the thistle, nettle, doc, cow parsley, and common hogweed coverage, and even devoured a giant hogweed plant, a phototoxic and noxious weed, that dared to try its luck rooting on the riverbank; I think Wayne might have been responsible for the latter. The cattle have removed most of small bramble patches and reduced the size of larger ones; they have eaten every piece of Himalayan balsam on the South Pasture, and generally done a reasonable grazing job I think.

I was debating with myself about how much thistle I should leave growing in the pasture, when I heard a commotion in the river. I couldn’t see the pheasant and wondered whether it had been so intent on what I was doing that it had taken a few backward steps and fallen in the water, so I went over to have a look. The pheasant was indeed in the water and a big old mink was attacking it with gusto and doing its best to keep the cock’s head underwater. The mink dragged the subdued bird to the bank and pulled it under overhanging vegetation. There was more violent movement, muffled noises and squealing, followed by silence. After a minute or two of silence, the mink appeared from beneath the vegetation, licked its lips, sniffed the air, and quickly scurried away over the mud, leaving the pheasant in its death throes.

Whether the pheasant fell into the river, or the mink rugby tackled it into the water, I can’t say, but what I can say is that a mink will attack anything it thinks it has at least half a chance of killing.

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