Lady Amherst’s pheasant

“Richard, there’s a strange, red-tailed pheasant in the garden,” said Jen, gazing out the study window.

Jen is definitely getting better at bird identification, but the last ‘strange pheasant’ she spotted in our garden turned out to be a sparrowhawk, so she still has some way to go.

“It’s probably jus… Oh good grief!”

Male Lady Amherst’s pheasant

A male Lady Amherst’s pheasant. My first ever! They were introduced to the UK from China by the eponymous Lady Amherst, as garden ornaments for her estates. Over the years, some escaped and established local wild populations. But, in recent years, they’re believed to have died out. From what I can gather, sightings are very rare these days.

My guess is the bird in our garden was an escapee. Our stunning visitor seemed fairly relaxed as I tiptoed about the patio taking photographs. So relaxed that he hung around for the rest of the day. I’m hoping he becomes a regular ornament on our estate!

Lady Amherst’s pheasant

A real thrill. And this not twenty-four hours after I wrote, “I’ve never been one for chasing after [bird] rarities”.

(In my defence, no chasing was involved.)

Richard Carter

Richard Carter is a writer and photo­grapher living in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire. Website · Facebook · Twitter · Newsletter · Book

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