Langham in Rutland
The season starts with the males laying claim to their territory. This involves a great deal of bobbing up and down making chirring noises and fluffing up of feathers. Very little actual contact takes place, apart from a few quick scuffles. The field usually has three territories, the "uppers", the "downers" and the "south enders". The limits of each territory don't seem to have any physical features that define them but are rigidly enforced by the males. The females seem to have a much more relaxed attitude and go where they please, much to the annoyance of the males who try to maintain their own harem. Mating then begins in earnest, the male circling a female with his head down and one wing arched over his body. Most of the time the female takes no interest and the rest of the time run away! The most hilarious time is when a female is near where the territories meet. Two of the males have a fight and while the female is watching the third male nips in and mates with her whilst she, and the other males, are distracted. The female lays her eggs in little more than a scrape under long grass or other cover in late March or April. The olive covered eggs are laid one per day in quite large clutches, fifteen being the largest I have counted. Incubation takes about a month and the chicks are usually seen around the end of May. The chicks all hatch and the same time and very quickly leave the nest as they are capable of running and feeding themselves. Leaving the nest early and moving into the long grass gives them a better chance of survival. Their buff coloured down with darker streaks makes excellent camouflage. The chicks stay with the mother for six to eight weeks, if they survive that long. The male rarely takes much part in their upbringing. The earlier chicks are pretty well full grown by the end of August.
A Pheasant’s Year - Bob Sheridan
Langham in Rutland