Chris McCully

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Suffolk skies

Saturday, 29 January 2022 at 20:03

Suffolk skies I don't think I've fished during the month of January, partly because of writing and marking loads but also because I've spent time most weekends working with our Poppy, including doing some picking up. My thinking, such as it's been, is that the more time I spend with Poppy now - getting her steadier, encouraging her to use her eyes and nose - then the more time I'll have later in her life (and in my own) to go fishing and have a quiet and well-adjusted companion while I do so. What I hadn't expected was to learn so much about the countryside in that process.

Today was one of those winter days that for a few moments around mid-day felt more like early spring. There was a glaze of emerald on the winter barley and in one sheltered local garden I saw the first celandines of the year - a spread of yellow buttons thrown on moss. Over our heads was the wide, wonderful sky of Suffolk, filled with a light so brittle that it seemed crystalline.

A note on woodpeckers drumming

Sunday, 9 January 2022 at 10:39

I can't remember ever having heard woodpeckers drumming this early in the year. These birds drum - to mark territory and attract mates - in what the reference guides state is early spring but I don't think 9th January quite counts as 'early spring', even in these climate-changing times. Still, there we were, the dog and I, listening as the light came up - intent but slightly perturbed. There's a good account of the UK woodpecker species and images/recordings of their calls and drumming at https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2021/09/british-woodpecker-id/

Happy New Year

Wednesday, 5 January 2022 at 20:18

Waiting for the birds

Unzipping the pheasant (and other poems)

Monday, 27 December 2021 at 12:48

Pheasant breast fillets I've dressed a few pheasants in my time. It can mean a lot of fiddly and even nauseating effort for what is rather little edible meat. I'm learning a new way of dressing the birds, one that doesn't require plucking. This involves making an incision below the bird's breast, 'unzipping' the pheasant (peeling back skin and feathers) up the  breastbone and then carving two breast fillets from the carcase. It's the work of a minute or two at most; a sharp filleting knife helps. Though you might like to save well-marked, long-fibred tail feathers for fly-tying, the rest of the bird is discarded: this is wasteful of the stock-making potential of legs and wings but we have freezer trays full of chicken, turkey and goose stock at this time of year anyway.

  I was impressed by the ease and neatness of this method of dressing the birds. There are excellent illustrated instructions here: https://www.ardmoor.co.uk/blogs/news/how-to-breast-pheasant


Fur and feather

Sunday, 26 December 2021 at 11:12

Christmas Day 2021

Three dogs in a field

Thursday, 23 December 2021 at 20:51

Three dogs

Training

Sunday, 12 December 2021 at 20:20

Training

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