For example, not having golden acres of oilseed rape nearby means that the risk of flea beetle devastation of the greens is much less. In my experience there is nowhere like a rural allotment for pigeon damage either, and late spring is one of the worst times. Whether it is purple sprouting broccoli at its best or newly emerged pea seedlings, pigeon love the lot.
The only real protection is to cover with a barrier, be that netting or fleece, but if you leave a chink in the armour some crafty pigeon will sneak in. So, defence number two is attack, and there is little more satisfying to the sportsman than creeping on to the vegetable plot at sunrise and taking out a right-and-left as they rise.
For most people there is no safe way to do this. In these circumstances, I use a rabbit cage trap. Laid out between the fleeced rows and baited with a sprinkling of wheat, it can be remarkably successful. It also results in a perfect pigeon for the pot, with no shot holes to spoil the meat.
Another favourite pigeon food at this time of year is bursting ash buds – no doubt a “traditional” food from their distant woodland past. If you have the patience, it can be very rewarding to hide under a big ash in a wood and flight the pigeon as they come to feed. You will be making a valid contribution to local control.
For me, spring pigeon, and particularly the allotment ones, demand spring vegetables as an accompaniment. My favourite way is to cut off the breasts (reserving the rest of the carcass for pâté), and slice thinly across the grain. I then season with a sprinkle of Chinese five spice, and stir-fry.
To start, heat a little groundnut oil in a wok, and then gently brown a few blanched marcona almonds. Lift out with a slotted spoon and put to one side. Fry the spiced meat for a few moments to seal, and add a generous splash of soy sauce and a pinch of sugar. Now toss in a handful of thinly sliced mixed vegetables (spring onions, spring cabbage and asparagus make an appropriate seasonal mix) and stir-fry for about a minute. Once cooked, the stir-fry should be tipped on to a warm plate, garnished with the almonds and served immediately. Do one pigeon at a time. Too much in the wok results in rubbery pigeon and soggy vegetables. If you have to feed someone else, share the first plate and then cook another.