A very blustery but dry day met the 30 enthusiastic people who attended the charity walk at Snilesworth Estate yesterday.
The walk departed from the very nice beaters hut at 10.30am where Jimmy Shuttlewood the Head Game Keeper on Snilesworth Estate led the walk. On route there were several stops as Jimmy answered all questions put to him, landmarks in the area, Grit Trays, layout of Grouse Butts and various other wildlife related enquiries.
Bridget McVeigh who had organised the walk put on a spectacular spread of home-made cakes, pies and scones which were absolutely delicious and perfect for all the hungry appetites after their excursions on the walk.
Bridget also ran a raffle and a quiz and overall the walk raised £237.00 which is to be split between NYMMO and Cancer Research.
A really fun day for all ages and abilities to enjoy, thanks to Bridget, her mum and Jimmy for allowing everyone to have a really great day out at Snilesworth
The Rosedale and Westerdale Gamekeepers hit the headlines in the Yorkshire Post in an excellent article highlighting the positives of gamekeepers and why their presence on the moors is vital. “Guardians of the moors” and “Why the value of gamekeepers should never be lost” are two great captions used in the report after an interview which saw Jimmy Brough (head gamekeeper) and two of his under-keepers Michael Wearmouth and Ben Mountain discuss their day to day roles and how they have evolved over the last eight years since they began at Rosedale.
The gamekeepers throughout North Yorkshire are keen to address the common misunderstandings about their work, are promoting what they do and why they do it and this is where NYMMO came about. NYMMO gives the keepers a stage to promote their work and this article is another outlet of this happening, this continued success along with the shows we have attended and demonstrations that have been ran makes for sustained good publicity.
Friday 10th March saw Jimmy Shuttlewood Head Keeper welcome MP Kevin Hollinrake to the Snilesworth estate for a guided tour and informal chat about managed moorland and the wildlife residing there.
It was great to see the array of birds on show whilst driving around, Curlew, Pheasant, Golden Plover, Partridge and of course Grouse all pointing to the good work being done by Jimmy and his team to ensure the moors are buoyant with wildlife.
Heather burning was visible on the moor and it was explained that this is carried out on a 6-7 year rotational period in accordance with the estates agreement with Natural England. Burning is essential practice to rejuvenate heather which helps to sprout new young shoots and encourage growth from seed germination in the spring. On viewing the moor it should look almost like a patchwork effect, the older heather is excellent cover for breeding grounds for all ground nesting birds including grouse and the newer heather provides essential nutritious food for moorland sheep and wildlife. The controlled burning undertaken ensures that only the heather is burnt and not the peat below meaning that it doesn’t harm the heather roots or other plant life, without controlled burning the risk of a wildfire which could have devastating consequences is more likely. The habitat conservation is of tremendous importance and the moorland management is vital to biodiversity, heather moorland globally is rarer than rainforest and 75% of it is located in the UK and without this management the biodiversity would be lost. If the moor was left to “it’s own devices” with no burning or sheep grazing it would become overgrown by fast growing trees and shrubs and the heather would be lost forever, Jimmy managed to show us an example of where this has happened.
Jimmy explained to Kevin the importance of providing grit for the grouse, this is required to aid the digestion of heather shoots which make up 80% of their diet, the grit is needed more in winter when the heather becomes more “woody”, the grit goes round in their gizzard and breaks down the heather, on average a grouse can consume approx. 35g of grit per month. There are two types of grit available medicated and natural, worm counts are obtained to ascertain whether medicated is required, this option is used to try and avoid a crash as this would be a disaster for estates that are run commercially to provide an income. Medicated grit is only available by licence and a vets prescription is required to purchase it, as with anything that is going into the food chain, the medication is to be removed for a period prior to it being eaten. The grit trays have 2 sides, 1 medicated and 1 natural, currently medicated is on show but towards the middle of June this side will be closed and the natural grit side will only be available.
Snilesworth estate work especially hard on introducing children to the moors, this is very apparent on shoot days when Saturdays are classed as childrens days whereby the beaters used are children who are picked up (and dropped back off at the end of the day) from the local village. The estate can have over 100 people working on a shoot day from the beaters, flankers, pickers, loaders to all the staff in the shoot lodge and the importance of educating children in this is paramount. At the end of each shooting season all employees that have helped out on a shoot day, get to stand alongside a game keeper where they are shown how to shoot and the general etiquette required when shooting.
Kevin Hollinrake mentioned to Jimmy that we should get some other MP’s out on the estate to see for themselves the benefits of managed moorland of which Jimmy was in total agreeance and offered his services if and when this could be arranged.
Kevin is quoted as saying “The work done by Jimmy and the gamekeepers is important to this community. It provides jobs and supports the local economy as well as bringing people from the area together for shoot days. Farmers and the gamekeepers work together to preserve the land. This is part of our rural heritage and essential for keeping the environment for future generations to appreciate.
I am so grateful to Jimmy for taking the time to show me this beautiful part of the constituency and explaining the many ways the gamekeepers preserve it. His enthusiasm about nature and for this unique part of the country made for a very informative and enjoyable morning. The views were amazing and the wildlife we saw thriving was wonderful to see.”
At this time of year it is ideal to try and reduce the rabbit population as much as possible before they can breed and have young dependents. The photos below are taken on the edge of the moor where the clearing of rabbits for the hill farms has been taking place and they show the age old method of using ferrets, nets and a lurcher.
Using the lurcher dog to mark (show that rabbits are in the warrren before netting) then using purse nets and long nets to catch the rabbits as they bolt from the ferrets, any rabbits that miss or slip the nets the lurcher will then hopefully catch and retrieve.
Ferrets tend to be the primary animal used in rabbiting, due to their ease in moving around the burrows. A Jill (female ferret) is more typically used in a hunt than a hob (male ferret), as the hob is more likely to “lay up” (kill and eat the rabbit in the burrow, resulting in the hob falling asleep). The ferrets have locator collars on so if any are stuck underground they can be dug out.