This stunning male Lady Amherst's Pheasant may (or may not) be the last of its kind remaining in the UK. The species has a fascinating history in Britain stretching back to the late 19th century, and its population peaked in the mid-20th century when it was said to number in to the hundreds across the Greensand Ridge in Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
Increased predation due to a rise in the fox population, along with increases in the population of introduced Muntjac, are cited as likely causes of its subsequent decline. By the turn of the century numbers of Lady Amherst's were suspected to have dropped to a few tens and, by 2010, just a handful remained.
It seems that birds have persisted at just one site for the past few years. I first encountered birds here in 2011, when at least three could be heard calling. It seems that these have now dwindled to just the one... I guess it could theoretically be almost as old as I am!
It's an incredibly wary bird and tends to show for just seconds at a time. Quite where it shows is unpredictable (it's been seen in several spots) though it had been favouring a certain ride in early March, and was apparently seen again there this morning (28 March).
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