Wanted: one lady friend for a handsome pheasant - Diary of a Sussex Newbie
He's a real dandy; a bit of a stunner in fact and always immaculately turned out. He's been here since we moved in.
At first he kept his distance. But gradually he’s become more comfortable with his new neighbours and spends a lot of his time chillaxing at the bottom of the garden.
He’s had a few names because we can’t quite decide which one suits him best.
I called him Phoenix, because of his stunning red and burgundy plumage, but everyone else tends to now refer to him as Phil. He seems a down to earth sort of chap and if the majority rules then I suppose Phil it shall be. Phil the Pheasant.
His favourite spot is in Devoted Doctor’s little bit of wilderness way down at the bottom of the garden. It’s a fairly big patch under a cluster of huge old maple trees, which is left un-mowed, where wild grasses and flowers stretch up to a couple of feet in height.
If we’re pottering around we often catch a glimpse of Phil’s tail feathers darting into the tangle of green.
The best sight though is his Olympic dash from one side of the garden to the other. If he’s caught by surprise over by the bonfire, or by The Admiral’s terrace, there’s a sudden comedic, slightly lop-sided turbo-sprint, as he careers towards the wilderness corner, squawking as he goes.
Most mornings when I look out of the window there he is, perched on top of an old wooden bench under a pine tree about halfway down the garden. It’s a good spot for a bit of r&r. Quite a lot of preening goes on and some mornings an awful lot of screeching as well.
Our household’s main pre-occupation at the moment is whether or not Phil’s ‘attached’. Dear Daughter is convinced that the screeching is his plaintiff call for company and she worries that he’s lonely and in need of female company. But maybe he’s chosen the single life?
Our friend, who’s much more knowledgeable about these sorts of things then we are, thinks there’s probably a shy her-indoors somewhere, perhaps on nesting duty. But we’ve never seen a female, and Phil hangs around here pretty much all the time.
Apparently there’s a male pheasant who roams around another property fairly close by, who has not just one, but a bevy of ladies, who all follow him around - a few feet behind, or to the side. This has worried everyone even more. How unfair that this feathery chap should have several ladies for company and Phil seems to have no one.
Perhaps we can set up some sort of Pheasant introductory service? Handsome pheasant offers one-on-one companionship plus 2.8 acres of grounds? But no time wasters please. Phil is a chap of integrity. Oh, and they must be willing to tolerate the odd encounter with two-legged folks, particularly of the teenage variety...
Marah Winn is a former London resident who has recently settled in Sussex.