Lady Amherst’s pheasant
The first Amherst’s pheasants to arrive in Europe were two males, sent to London in 1828 by Lord Amherst, the governor general of India. The species was then named after his wife. These striking, grand-looking birds did not fare well and subsequently the species was cross-bred with golden pheasants. From that time onwards most of the Amherst’s pheasants in the UK have been found to be hybrids.
Although the species is native to China, in the 1890s a flock was released into the UK countryside near the Woburn Estate in Bedfordshire. They were certainly an eye-catching addition to the native wildlife, but they suffered predation from foxes and habitat loss over the years, meaning there are very few, or possibly none, left in the wild in the UK today.
The World Pheasant Association is now working to try and reproduce the very few pure birds that look like the original wild birds.