Controlling predators and new puppies

Controlling predators and new puppies

Luise Janniche is passionate about ecology and the great Scottish outdoors, and is ArdMoor’s ethical hunting expert and the founder & MD of Tuffies – a unique dog bed making business based in Aberdeenshire. Here is her latest blog…

This spring has been dominated by two things: A new puppy and making sure the waders around us get the best chance to get their chicks safely away.

Firstly, my new puppy… As my “youngster” is a six year old German Wirehaired Pointer, I suddenly woke up and realised that I really needed to get on with finding the next puppy. Having had four GWPs, I wanted to go back to the Vizslas. There is something very special about this breed and I found a Hungarian Wirehaired Vizsla puppy in England. Conveniently, she was ready in April and so I took the 1,000-mile round-trip to collect her.

Life with a puppy in the house is always surprisingly busy and tremendously lovely. What fun to have a little puppy.

She was, however, not received with open paws by the other two, but she just persevered and they now love her. She is as daft as any. Boots and shoes are a favourite and somehow puppies just love sticking their heads into shoes and boots.

Hungarian Wirehaired Vizsla puppy with its head stuck in a boot
Luise’s Hungarian Wirehaired Vizsla puppy with its head in a boot

They get themselves in to all sorts and certain things that seem harmless can be a disaster. Here she is, having found a ball of knitting wool. The consequences of eating some of this can be a dead puppy or a massive, dangerous operation.

Puppy playing with wool
Looks like fun, but wool yarn can be dangerous for young puppies.

I have found that the best toy for all puppies is the brush from a pan and brush set. This particular one has seen a number of puppies…

Hungarian Wirehaired Vizsla puppy playing with a sweeping brush
Puppies love a brush

Of course the training has started slowly and it is nice to have summer time to train a little pup like this.

Just getting used to water with her friend, Freddie, the Border Terrier is a step forward.

Luise Janniche with her Hungarian Wirehaired Vizsla and Border Terrier
Getting to grips with the water.

Taking care of our waders

One of the biggest dangers to our waders (curlew, lapwing, oystercatcher etc), is the carrion crow. They love eggs and there are millions of them. In the immediate area around our house, about a couple of square miles, I have killed 101 carrion crows this spring. It is time consuming going round the Larsen traps and quietly using a rifle on the ones that won’t get trapped, but the result is excellent. We have the same pair of oystercatchers on the neighbour’s farm as last year and we have eight lapwings nesting in a field.

A precarious time for oystercatchers and their offspring

It was all going very well and then this winter weather went on and on into spring and summer…. With the low temperature and persistent rain and SNOW, the lapwings lost most chicks as there were no insects for them to eat. They can lay eggs again and I can see they are busy doing so at the moment.

The lovely oystercatchers incubated their eggs for all 26 days only to find their nest under water on the very day of hatching. Both chicks died having made a little hole in the shell. I am a bit of a softy and I found it intolerable.

At least they have no carrion crows around and hopefully they will also lay again this summer. Last year they succeeded to hatch three chicks by the end of June, so they should be OK if they have three new eggs.

Oystercatcher eggs
Oystercatcher eggs hopefully safe from crows

As I write, the sun has decided to start shining and the temperature has managed to get in to double digits. Let’s hope we, and the wildlife around us, finally get a summer.