Phasianus colchicus and torquatus – Introduced.
The Pheasant thrives remarkably well in Pembrokeshire, not only in the preserves, but in the wild unpreserved districts in the county, where it meets with all its requisites— water, shelter and food. It delights in the stiff fox-covers of from four feet to five feet high furze, which are so numerous, and in these, as we have often experienced, neither dogs nor beaters will avail to flush it. The birds shot in these impenetrable covers are worth some trouble to obtain, being fine and heavy, and of most excellent flavour.
The ring-necked Pheasant (P. torquatus) is now the predominant variety throughout the county. It is said to have been introduced by Sir John Owen, Bt., of Orielton, some fifty or sixty years ago, and it has extended itself even to the remote “mountain” districts.
The Rev. W. Scott, rector of Slebech, has told us that when he was a boy at school in Carmarthen, he well remembers the town crier one day being sent about the streets to request the people to abstain from injuring the Pheasants that had just been turned down upon an estate at no great distance from the town. This, doubtless, had reference to the ring-necked birds, and was, probably, their first introduction in that part of Carmarthenshire. We have only very rarely encountered specimens of the old breed of red birds in the covers in North Pembrokeshire.
In very severe winters, after deep snows and long protracted frosts, we have once or twice picked up dead and frozen hen birds in our covers, but we never came across a dead cock bird in such weather, and believe that these hardy birds can find a subsistence for themselves almost anywhere, and are practically omnivorous. When Snipe shooting, we have often put up and shot straying cock Pheasants in unexpected places, on the barest hill tops, and in the wettest bogs.
No doubt, a considerable number of Pheasants fall victims to the foxes that swarm beyond all reason in some parts in the north of the county ; several times we have had our setter draw up to and stand a fox kennelled in some trash on the ” mountain,” with one of our Pheasants half-eaten by his side, and we have wondered whether it was the “varmint” that we allowed to trot off towards our covers, or the remains of game that had been winded by our dog.