Fowling as an art form
Hunting with artist Simon Trinder proves to be a day to remember, despite not bagging any ducks, but Richard Negus intends to return
Have you ever seen a murmuration of avocets? That may not be the ornithologically correct term, but it is the best word I have in my lexicon. Whatever it is called, I was fortunate enough to view this display from a tiny island in the mid-channel of a tidal river.
Watching more than 200 of these rare waders lift off the mud, synchronise their wingbeats and roll and plunge as if one solid mass is a sight that will live long in my memory. Akin to aerial-shoaling fish, their semaphore-like flash blinked from white to black and back again. These efforts succeeded in utterly bamboozling the peregrine that had stooped to take one of their number.
The falcon was not the only predator on the river Alde that day who found bagging his quarry a challenge.
I met Simon Trinder at
9.30am in the Snape Maltings car park. The maltings, which date back to the mid-1800s, are situated on the banks of the Alde in prime Suffolk arable country. Snape is midway between the brewing centres of Norwich and London, and the site malted barley up until the 1960s. With river transport of malt succeeded by road and rail, the maltings became defunct.
Then the artistic eye, or possibly ear, of the composer Benjamin Britten discovered the place. Snape is now a worldrenowned concert hall and artistic centre.
It was therefore apposite to rendezvous with Simon at this cultural hot spot. Simon will be known to many of you as one of our
foremost living wildfowl artists. I discovered he is also one of the most knowledgeable wildfowlers.
We drove the handful of miles from Snape to Iken. The sky was clear, the breeze gentle but turning promisingly to the north. Once parked up, we walked across the saltings carrying our guns, decoy bag, outboard motor and hides to where a small fibreglass dinghy lay moored to a buoy. This little boat is one of the two craft that belong to the Alde and Ore Wildfowlers’ A fling of dunlin lifts off the river Alde at
Iken in Suffolk
Association. Members may use the boats to gain access to some of the wildest and most inaccessible of the club’s shooting on the river.
Millie, Simon’s 10-year-old black Labrador, waited, saintlike, for us as we stowed our kit in the boat. In well-