ROD & GUN: Who is to blame for the state of Ulster grouse moors?

Top dog: Davy O'Neill and his wife Lynn with champion red setter Glynbank Aramis and the trophies  he won at the prestigious trials on Ballihope grouse moor in Co Durham.
Top dog: Davy O'Neill and his wife Lynn with champion red setter Glynbank Aramis and the trophies he won at the prestigious trials on Ballihope grouse moor in Co Durham.

Clive Aslet, Editor at large of Country Life, made some excellent points in his Sunday Telegraph article (August 9).

But the one I want to focus on is this: “The harder fact (for conservationists to accept) is that grouse moors that are shot over are far richer in all species of birds than those that aren’t. Grouse are wild but that does not mean that untended moorland offers suitable conditions for them to flourish. Gamekeepers burn patches of moor to create the mosaic of habitat that these volatile creatures require. They also come down hard on predators that feed on grouse eggs and chicks – foxes, stoats, weasels, crows, though not hawks.”

I have often said that, in certain circumstances, organisations like the RSPB do more harm than good to our environment and its wildlife. It would seem that men who really know the facts about moorland life would agree with me.

Those who walked barren moors on the once Glorious Twelfth will be asking themselves how and why we allowed political manipulators to silence the calls of the wildlife we loved. Collective irresponsibility has cost us dearly. And I think there are few things more irresponsible than releasing raptors and predators in places where they do enormous damage.

One man who most certainly will be in a joyful mood is Cullybackey field sports maestro, Davy O’Neill. And with good reason. His field trial champion red setter, Glynlark Aramis, has just won the UK premier event for pointers and setters – the Champion stake.

Davy and Glynlark pulled off their fourth victory in five Open stake outings when they spreadeagled a field of 37 top dogs on Ballihope grouse moor in Co Durham.

Thirty-seven pointers and setters competed for the coveted Heywood-Lonsdale perpetual challenge trophy presented by the late Lt Col Heywood-Lonsdale for the winner of the Champion stake. Nineteen of the 37 dogs came from Ireland.

The Pointer and Setter Champion stake is regarded as the most prestigious gundog event in the UK. Since 1939 the champion stake has been promoted on behalf of the Kennel Club by the Scottish Field Trials Association and the International Gundog League Pointer and Setter Society in alternate years. Next year it will be held at Byrecleugh estate on the Scottish borders

Davy O’Neill has been competing in pointer and setter trials for 10 years. Glynlark Aramis has now won five Open stakes. He won his first Open at Glenwherry.

At Ballihope, Glynlark Aramis had a good run in the first round with a find on a covey of grouse. In the second round he found a single grouse and a covey. In the third round he had a clear run with no mistake. Glynlark Aramis also won the cup for the best backing dog at the Ballihope trials

The judges were Billy Darragh of Sion Mills and Dominic Goutorbe.

Davy told me that there was a magnificent show of grouse at Ballihope. He said there were grouse on every beat with dozens more to be seen on the way out to the moor which was a great tribute to the excellent work done by the head keeper and his four assistants.

Anglers on the Cork Blackwater had another great day on Sunday on the Blackwater Lodge section when 14 fish to 11lb were caught - third best day of the season. Seven were caught on fly, four on spinner and three on shrimp.

A fish of 8lb was caught on the upper river by Dave Walsh and released. In three days 15, 18 and 14 fish were caught. There has been no rain in the catchment for 24 hours and this is expected to continue through the coming week.
Nancy Hearne writes in her Irish Angling update for August 7: “The first day of August saw four fish landed in Delphi and many more were expected during the week as conditions were conducive to salmon fishing at the moment. Tidal sections of the Moy were hard to fish but mid-river was easier with Rinanny recording the highest numbers. Worm and spinner worked best.

“Rising water levels affected angling on Ballisodare, yet 100 salmon were reported. Sea trout are still running Glencar lake in good numbers. The Munster Blackwater cheered 15 years old Jack Hughes from the U.K up to no end as he caught a cracking salmon weighing 18lb 8oz at Fort William.

“On Lough Sheelin the evening sedge, Murrough and the green Peter tempted the trout and the blue moon on July 31 drove the trout into a feeding frenzy with 72 trout to 5lb recorded.

The final day of Lough Mask World Cup competition had to be postponed due to weather conditions.

Since it began on July 19, National Fishing Month 2015 (NFM)has proved to be a major attraction at events throughout the country. it was launched at ‘Parklife’ in Milton country park,Cambridge, on a gloriously sunny day where 90 people tried angling for the first time. The event was staged in partnership with Cambridge Sports Lakes Trust, and it allowed visitors to explore a variety of ways to improve their health and wellbeing, as well as trying a range of sports (including fishing) to inspire them to become more active.
At Craigmore good numbers of trout were caught. R McCabe and Colin Reid both had brown trout but Davy couples Jr topped that when he landed two brown trout on dry flies. Martin Foster had 41 trout to 8lb on a shaggy dog. Sandy Dorian had 34 to 8lb on the weed on his first visit and 23 to 6 lb 10oz on his second.

Other catches were: William Kinnaird, 24; Ken Clarke, 12 to 7lb 3oz; Albert Jones, 18 to 5lb 6oz; Billy Hazlett, 16 to 5lb; Jeff Davidson, 16; David Moore, 15 to 10lb; Davy Mc Kay and Herbie Kerr 17 each; Craig Murray, 20 plus; Leslie Beggs, 13; John Hughes,15 to 7lb 10 oz; Andy McClelland, 12 to 5lb 7oz; Matthew Laffin, 16 to 10lb; Davy Couples Sr, 10 to 5lb; Chris Irvine, 14 to 6lb; Shane Douglas, 12 lb and 10lb; Simon Kerr, three to 8lb; Tommy Wharry, two to 6lb 10oz; Alan Temple, two at 5lb; David Cunningham, three to 7lb; N Clewer, 7lb; Billy Magill, two at 6lb.

Arran Megaw, 6lb; Rolly Woods, two to 5lb; Roy Quinn, three to 8lb 10oz; Raymond Stewart, 8lb 10 oz and 7lb;. JJ Magill, two to 5lb; George Lyttle, two to 8lb; Johnny McNeill, two to 6lb; Gary Graham, two at 6lb; Steven Crummey, two; Paul Donnelly,7lb and 8lb; James Murphy, 5lb 9oz; Ivan McCaughy, 9lb 10oz; Peter Clarke, two at 5lb 6oz; Davy and Peter Hunter, three; Bob Johnson, 10lb; Tony Cooper, 8lb and 7lb.