Location of flight ponds
When considering the creation of a new pond, investigate the need for consents from the local planning authority and the Environment Agency in England and Natural Resources Wales in Wales. In Scotland consult the planners and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, and in Northern Ireland consult the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
When creating a new pond, choose the location with care; boggy, wet grassland can have a higher conservation value than an inappropriately placed area of open water.
Consider the special status of surrounding or nearby land, particularly nature reserves, Sites of Special Scientific Interest or other land managed for shooting. Make sure you contact surrounding land managers to ascertain how best to integrate your own shooting plans with theirs.
Safety is of paramount importance and this Code of Practice recommends that:
- Clear instructions are given – and are followed – about where Guns are placed, where it is safe to shoot and when shooting can start and must stop.
- Hides must be constructed and positioned to maximise safety.
- Guns must know where any dog handlers may be positioned and when any shot wildfowl will be retrieved.
- Guns must not be loaded until shooting can start and must be unloaded as soon as it ends.
- The BASC Shotgun Safety Code of Practice must be followed at all times.
Ensure that the location will minimise disturbance to nearby residents and livestock.
To avoid livestock damaging the margins of the pond it will be worth considering the need to install a fence around the perimeter. If livestock are using the pond for drinking water, an area can be left unfenced to allow access.
Respect for quarry
It is advisable to pattern your gun/cartridge combination to make sure it will deliver the appropriate killing load – provided, as ever, you can consistently centre your pattern on the target. Understand your own limitations with the gun and cartridge combination you are using. Further advice is available from BASC.
Immediately mark all shot quarry, ensuring that it is retrieved as soon as it is safe to do so. Dispatch any wounded bird immediately, humanely and acceptably. A sharp knock on the head with a heavy stick or a priest can be effective as can the use of a purpose-made bird dispatcher.
The use of a trained gundog is essential in flight pond shooting, to find and promptly retrieve shot birds, especially those which fall in water. If you do not have a retrieving dog, only take shots which will result in birds falling on dry land and which you can retrieve. This may include times when the pond is frozen, since it can be dangerous to send a dog over ice.
Keep any dog under control at all times as livestock and other wildlife are often in the vicinity.
Always allow enough time for the retrieval of all shot birds before leaving the pond, and aim to leave the pond before the last birds arrive.
Guns should always be in place half an hour before expected flight time. Remember to always remove cartridge cases and all other litter.
If supplementary feeding is carried out, this Code of Practice recommends that care should be taken to avoid excess feed being left in or around the pond; it encourages pests such as rats and may lead to a degradation of the water quality.
Additional feeding may be needed in severe weather and if necessary on top of ice. As a guideline, increase the amount of food provided until some is left and then cut back slightly.
Generally a 10 litre (2 gallon) bucket of barley per 100 duck per day is sufficient
The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 provide that mallard eggs may be collected from the wild (under general licence) until 31 March in England, Wales, and Scotland and in Northern Ireland until 10 April. Collected eggs must be incubated and every effort made to rear the ducklings. They must be released into the wild by 31 July.
In addition, this Code of Practice recommends that:
The number of birds released must be appropriate to the size and other characteristics of a flight pond, so as not to damage the habitat, of value to other wildlife. As a guide, when releasing mallard, 600 birds per hectare (250 birds per acre) of water is a maximum.
Any ducks must be released by 31 July.