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

Shooting Times & Country Magazine - - WILDFOWLING -

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-

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