The Countryman's Weekly


November 30
07:08 2021

When the stars align – wildfowling in Wales

By Michael Kemble.

CHASING ducks on the foreshore is not an easy affair. As the weather gets cooler and the ducks seem to get spookier, fieldcraft, resilience, equipment and a host of other variables need to be right to have success on the marsh. There are some occasions however, and very rarely, that the stars seem to align and you have a red-letter day.

It was mid-October and a 4am start saw us heading to the Welsh coast. The weather was unseasonably mild, it was wet and there was a favourable wind blowing over our right shoulder. We arrived with the water lapping at the fret edge, a 4.8-metre tide to be exact, and enough to ensure that it wasn’t likely we would have much action until the water began to recede.

With a full spread of Avian X decoys, mallard and wigeon carefully assorted to our front, we ensured there was enough space to allow birds into the decoy spread should they wish. As the black curtain rose with the dawn, distant mallard quacked loudly and then began to move inland to find quieter pools for their day’s roost. Hours passed. A little egret, two curlew and a heron – the only creatures that came within 100 yards of our spread despite Alex’s calling.

As the water fell away, we thought the gutters that distantly ran to our left and right, which would no doubt be a safe haven for ducks from the wind, would be steadily emptying of water and would then push the ducks to seek shelter or feast on the invertebrates high in the mud of the retreating tide.


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