Decapitated – almost every last one!

Last week while we had torrential rain and I couldn’t get into the garden, mass decapitation was taking place in the woodland! I couldn’t believe it when I went there today to see how my snakeshead fritillaries were coming on, masses of them had no flowers at all, when the week before there were loads of buds about to open.

Fritillaria meleagris

At first glance everything looks ok, its only when you come to examine each flower that you realise something is wrong.

Half flower

This is what I found, either a flower chewed in half…….

Flower all gone

or completely gone, most were like this.

One left

There were just one or two that had escaped, thank goodness, they are all white, don’t they taste as nice I wonder?  Who had wreaked such havoc in the woodland I hear you cry…….


…this is the fellow who is responsible!! I have read many times that pheasants are partial to snakeshead fritillary flowers, but so far haven’t had any damage during the 22 yrs we have been here with a pheasant visiting the garden. Maybe this year we have a different one who has a sweet tooth! Is the only answer to erect a fence around the fritillaries or buy a gun, what do you think? Don’t worry, only joking about the gun!

Last yrs flowers

In the meantime I will leave you with a photo of how it should look at the moment,  this was taken last March.

I will let you know what happens, there are still a few buds, so hopefully they will be allowed to grow properly and open into beautiful flowers. I can hear him making a noise in the garden at the moment, it sounds as if he is in the woodland, maybe I will have to sit in there to protect my flowers…………. no I don’t think so, it is freezing today!!

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30 Responses to Decapitated – almost every last one!

  1. Gitte says:

    Ohh how sad. I´ve never heard that pheasants like fritillarias. We have pheasants here too, but not ones with a sweet tooth 🙂 Hopefully there will still be some who will flower.

  2. Liz says:

    Hi Pauline,

    OH NO!!!!!
    Grrrrr, so incredibly frustrating, isn’t it??!!!!! Awwww man, and Fritilaries are so beautiful; I’m distraught for you. But it does remind me I need to pick some more up 🙂
    One would think you’ve so many that it doesn’t matter if he eats some, but this is just going too far to eat pretty much ALL of them.

    • Pauline says:

      Liz, I love your reply!!! I think the ones at the centre might be safe, didn’t want to wade in with my big feet to find out. Can’t see any evidence that the pheasant has walked through, as nothing is squashed, I’ll just have to hope that he has left a few for me to enjoy! Hopefully the freezing weather might have held some buds back, maybe some might appear when it turns warmer, or am I hoping for the impossible?

  3. Christina says:

    When you wait all winter, hoping for something to flower and look wonderful; then something destroys it – That is such a bad feeling, I remember how I felt about the wisteria a couple of years ago, and that was only a small part! I think the gun isn’t such a bad idea or at the very least a bird scarer. Christina

    • Pauline says:

      I’m rather partial to a bit of pheasant for my dinner Christina!! It was so frustrating to find what had happened, I’m beginning to think that a bird scarer sounds a good idea, I’ll have to think about that one! What happened to your Wisteria, I must have missed that post?

  4. Cathy says:

    I am wondering what happened to Christina’s wisteria too! But your poor fritillaries – what a shame, and what a wonderful picture of last year’s show. They look even better en masse than in ones and twos, don’t they? Your feathered friend is a handsome beast, no doubt, but with very poor taste….

    • Pauline says:

      I was really looking forward to seeing them again Cathy. Last year it was such lovely weather in March and we were busy in the garden every day, maybe our presence kept the pheasant away! He certainly is a beautiful looking bird, if he is the same one as last year, why can’t he just eat the weeds?!

  5. Anna says:

    Oh Pauline what a crying shame 🙁 I know birds have got to eat but surely some morsels should be strictly off menu. From what you say I suppose the odds must have been on your fritillaries being munched sooner or later, so you have done well to have gone 22 years without losses. That’s not much consolation though when you’ve got to wait another year to see them in their prime. You will have to reprimand him severely and ask him to nibble in somebody else’s garden come 2014 or else …..

    • Pauline says:

      Even worse Anna, when he comes and eats some of the bird food first thing in the morning! It means though that we won’t have many seeds this year which is a shame. Most of the time we see him on the field next door, I really wish he would stay there!!

  6. Helen says:

    Fritillaries are such a pick-me-up here in early spring/late winter, that is such a pity. We have a neighbour’s cat that wants to sit underneath my bird feeders and hopefully catch my birds, so we bought a water gun, the kind children play with, a would spray it whenever we saw it, maybe something similar might be worth trying with your pheasant. Apart from that, pheasants do taste nice!! : -)

    • Pauline says:

      Helen, that is a fantastic idea, next time I’m in town it will be on my shopping list!! I am partial to a bit of pheasant for my dinner, but don’t think I could actually kill him in spite of the havoc he is causing to my fritillaries!

  7. Annie_H says:

    Oh what a shame, they are such beautiful flowers, as seen on your last photo. I hope it didn’t get them all and you have a few blooms to cherish.

    • Pauline says:

      Thanks for visiting Annie, lovely to hear from someone new! It is a shame isn’t it, I think I can see a few buds in the centre of the group, so maybe I will get a few flowers after all, last year there must have been at least 100!

  8. That is very sad about the fritillaria, one of my favorites. However, I consider you lucky to have such gorgeous pheasants—I think I would give up my fritillaria to get them back. Thirty years ago we had a lot but they have succumbed to the development of the surrounding land.

    • Pauline says:

      The pheasants are here all the time Carolyn, and I don’t think nice thoughts when they wake me up at 5am! Eating my fritillary flowers is a step too far, why can’t they stay on the fields next door. There is a white male next door, but we haven’t seen him in the garden yet, the males are usually followed by a dozen females, they would soon clear my garden of flowers if they all came!! I’m sorry you lost yours due to development, it seems nature is being squeezed out the world over.

  9. Lyn says:

    What a shame, Pauline! Your fritillaries from last year are so lovely. The pheasant is very handsome, though. I can’t grow fritillaries and there are no pheasants here either, just snails, which aren’t nearly as decorative.

    • Pauline says:

      Lyn, at least slugs and snails don’t wake you up at 5 am! Don’t be deceived by his handsome looks, he makes so much noise in a morning, worse than a cockerel!! I wake up to him squawking and wonder… he in the woodland attacking my fritillaries, its freezing at the moment, so I snuggle down under the duvet again and hope for the best!

  10. pbmgarden says:

    Such a loss. Hope your pheasant moves on before some other buds catch his attention.

    • Pauline says:

      Unfortunately Susie he is now bringing Mrs pheasant with him these days! They don’t seem concerned when we are in the garden with them, we can get to within 3ft of him before they fly away, chasing him doesn’t seem to work. It’s only this time of year that we have him in the garden, so I hope he soon continues his wanderings elsewhere!

  11. Wendy says:

    Hello; I’m sorry to read about your fritillaries. From your lovely photograph of last year they looked beautiful. I have no idea what the solution is. Perhaps he will move on; although I know in my area, another pheasant would quickly take his place.

    • Pauline says:

      Lovely to hear from you Wendy, we have rather a lot of pheasants on the field next door, I don’t know if it is the same one which comes to the garden each day or not. The flowers were beautiful last year, most grown from seed scattered over the years. I started with just a few bulbs, 20 I think, and the rest have all come from these. Thanks for visiting.

  12. debsgarden says:

    Oh, no! And such a beautiful bird! Your fritillaries of last year were so gorgeous. I would be heartsick to lose them. I like the suggestion I read above about the water gun. Or can you set up a motion sensitive alarm of some sort to scare him off? I hope there is a solution!

    • Pauline says:

      He is lovely isn’t he Deb, but I too like the water pistol idea, frighten him away without hurting him. Such a shame, we get on very well the rest of the year!

  13. Rather heart breaking isn’t it. We have pheasants too, they have never bothered the garden but boy do they sound awful, quite the voice on those guys.

    • Pauline says:

      Yes, SG, especially at 5am, trying to get back to sleep is almost impossible after that! This is the first time they have attacked the fritillaries, I’m wondering if its because their normal food, insects and wrigglies, are deep down in the soil which has been frozen for some weeks now. Maybe flowers are all they can find to eat, I wonder if putting seed out would make any difference?!

  14. Jayne says:

    What misery to loose that whole stand of bloom! We had phesants in the fields around our home when I was growing up, but I don’t remember that they ever caused my parents such grief! Of course they weren’t growing prize fritillaria! That is a pity!

    • Pauline says:

      I’m trying to be charitable Jayne and not think horrible thoughts about the pheasants! I’m coming to the conclusion that because the ground is so frozen solid, then the usual food for the pheasant isn’t available,( insects, grubs, wriggly things etc) then it has had to turn to alternatives, namely , my flowers! We haven’t had this trouble in the past when we haven’t had this dreadful spell of freezing weather, so hopefully it won’t happen next year. If it’s freezing next March I think we will have to fence them off with netting!!

  15. Pauline – fool that I am – SHOULD have said #Terrified Tuesday

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