WELL, HERE we are at the end of 2004 and it has certainly been an eventful 12 months for all of us on the estate.

With the weather causing a lot of concern throughout the year, and a late harvest, everyone has been under pressure, but I am pleased with the way the season has gone so far.

All the work we have done on the estate with our conservation measures has really paid off, with a good increase in our farmland birds and red list species. We had a slight increase in grey partridge on last year and a lot of wild pheasants, which are now showing up nicely on our walk and stand days.

There also seems to be a lot of woodcock about, but nobody has managed a right and left yet.

It has also been a good year for awards. We have won three – the Jas Martin Grey Partridge for Lincolnshire Award; Farmers Weekly/CLA Game Fair Gamekeeper of the Year; and the FWAG Silver Lapwing Award for the whole of the UK.

As we come into the final stretch of this season, I am already looking ahead to the next one. I have earmarked two release pens for moving and will start taking them down soon so I can get them into their new positions at the end of the month. Another job I have lined up for wet days is section repairs. It is surprising how many need attention and doing them now will make life a whole lot easier when it comes to putting them up in the summer.

Any sections that I find are past it are always useful for things like tunnel boxes and if the wire is any good, I use it for Larsen traps. I like to make the Larsens with one top and one side entry. This way I can cover whichever way the target wants to enter the trap. On the side entry, I find it best to put the spring at the bottom of the door – it keeps it clear of the frame and allows it to close properly.

All best wishes to readers for 2005 – here’s to good weather, good birds and good sport.