I have seen more of County Down in the past ten years doing field archery, than I had pre-wood shooting. Even in the past I have been involved in the setup, design, and maintenance of field courses which gives great access to some of the most beautiful places on the island.

Clubs don’t run without volunteers, and getting involved in the setup and taking down of courses is great exercise, provides a social outing, and frankly one of the best ways to learn about field archery.

It is one of the best aspects to the sport/hobby, that field archery takes place outdoors. And, not just outdoors but in private estates you would not ordinarily have access to, and scenic parks. Between shooting the often inventive target setups, and searching for arrows, there is much to take in in terms of the natural scenery.

Here is the first part of a series of art works, depicting the type of birds to be seen at local field venues:

Colour pencil Drawing of a Raven
Raven – I have seen and heard these at Ballywalter, and Clandeboye their honking caws a dominating feature across the height of the trees.
Colour pencil drawing of a Robin
Robin – Probably one of the most photogenic of all birds, and a great one to begin with for anyone wanting to get into photographing or drawing birds. These boisterous, and loud, birds have featured in just about every venue I have shot at. One even jumped into the car after a shoot, and sat on my arm for a bit.
Colour pencil drawing of a Magpie
Magpie – Belligerent, their caw is a rapid staccato, somewhere between shrill and rusty. I’ve seen and heard them at just about every venue I’ve shot at. In the sun, indigo and emerald run down their tail and wing feathers to give an iridescent sheen to their beauty.
Colour drawing of a Great Tit
Great Tit – Loud, like many small birds. It holds an almost vivid black stripe down its chest, the goldy yellow of which sets it aside from being mistaken for a blue tit. These are common enough, and I’ve seen and heard them at Clandeboye, Lady Dixon Park, Loughbrickland, Mount Stewart, Guildford, and Greenmount.
Colour drawing of a Yellow Hammer
Yellow Hammer – I’m not sure how common a bird this is, as I have only seen one and it was at my local club’s outdoor venue, hidden in the foliage and watching us search for an arrow.
Colour drawing of a Rook
Rook – A personal favourite, these are in fact, very colourful. Glossy indigo and navy blue layer over each other to give the dark visage recognised by people. And within the dark feathers, emerald green and violet can be seen too. Though its prominent feature is the scythe like beak, disproportionately large. These are out in force at Loughbrickland, and from this venue I have managed to find many loose feathers to cut into fletches for my arrows. They are common and seen or heard at just about every venue I’ve shot at.
Colour drawing of a Tree Creeper
Tree Creeper – These are small, skittering, solitary birds, found on the bark of trees. And they are fast. Their curved beaks and leaner bodies set them aside from misidentification as sparrows. I’ve seen these at Mount Stewart, Loughbrickland, and Clandeboye.
Colour drawing of a Jay
Jay – These are a common enough species of crow, but they are illusive and only present in family sized groups, if not alone or in pairs. They have a rusty caw, and stay high up in branches, though their brownish bodies can simmer into a rufus red if the sun hits them. These I have seen – heard more often than not – at Clandeboye, Ballywalter, and Greenmount.
Colour drawing of a Ring-Necked Pheasant
Ring-Necked Pheasant – I have seen these in large numbers at Ballywalter, a private estate, and that is mainly because they are bred for sporting purposes. Yet, in the wild I have seen and heard their shrill, cracking, calls at Clandeboye, Mount Stewart, Carriag Woods, Guildford, and even at my club’s outdoor venue.