Farming column with Sam Walton

The dreaded wood pigeon.
The dreaded wood pigeon.

I heard a very interesting talk recently by a lady from the RSPB at Flamborough about how so many birds were protected.

I did ask her if that applied to wood pigeons or stoggies as they might be known.

A solar powered pigeon scarer.

A solar powered pigeon scarer.

The answer I got was that all birds are protected and how it was a criminal offence to shoot them.

However, after much debate we decided that we could in fact shoot these birds which are a horrendous problem with crops such as oilseed rape.

I was pleased to hear that as I had visualised being fined as there are always a couple of chaps who like to come and make a hide in the fields to shoot the damned things.

If I could get rid of anything, apart from poverty worldwide, it would be wood pigeons.

They have ferocious appetites and can decimate a crop, particularly one which is day or two later in being sown.

They eat the heart out of it which knocks the yield, leaving areas half cropped and also much later as the bits which are left, take longer to ripen.

So what can we do otherwise to prevent the damage? Crow bangers are a good thing which are a length of rope to which are attached some mild explosives.

You light the bottom of the rope and it burns slowly creeping it’s way up the rope to light each banger as it arrives.

For these to be affective means being up at the crack of dawn and going to light a new rope each day as the danger time is early spring before the seeds form.

If not attended to, as much as half a tonne per acre can be lost.

Apart from physically shooting them, we have calor gas guns which are battery powered and can be controlled to bang at intervals, or modern solar powered guns such as I have which are set to go off at dark and come on at daylight.

Whatever method we use is pretty expensive.

Ouch!