THE hoo-hah about wildlife campaigner Chris Packham’s success in banning the shooting of certain species of birds – including crows – without the appropriate licence takes me back to my very early days on my uncle’s farm in a remote part of Cumberland.

On the farm was a little copse of tall trees rejoicing in the name of Crow Wood, presumably because of the vast accumulation of twiggy nests that decorated the very top branches of the woodland.

Every May, my uncle and other members of the family would repair to the wood, armed with .22 rifles, just at the time when newly fledged crows were teetering on the very edge of their nests, getting ready to take their first flights over the fields.

Many of them never got to plunge their beaks into the eye of a newly born lamb, as they were brought down to earth in a hail of lead.

“Don’t shoot the old ones,” my uncle would say. “They are as tough and rank as shoe leather.

“Just get the youngsters. Don’t shoot them all – leave some to breed next year.”

Although I was very small, I can still recall the heady smell of cordite, and the fluttering of many black bodies as they tumbled to earth in a flurry of feathers.

I had to help in gathering the still warm bodies, and bundling them into a sack to place in the box of the little grey Fergie tractor to take back to the tractor shed.

There no attempt was made to gut or pluck the birds – they were roughly carved open and the breasts removed, with the rest of the bird tossed into a grisly heap in the corner of the shed.

The breasts were then taken indoors into the farmhouse kitchen, where they were placed into a pie crust and then into the oven at the side of the coal-fired range.

And I have to say my memory of crow pie is that it was quite delicious with crow meat tasting rather like chicken.

I should perhaps say that I am not a shooting man, not because I don’t approve of shooting for sport, but because of my poor eyesight, unsteady hands and clumsy stalking technique.

I once fired my brother’s rifle at a stationary rabbit from a distance of 15 yards, and the creature was completely unaware it was being fired upon!

However, I have to say I am no great lover of crows of any type.

Having seen their depredations on newborn lambs, it is easy to see why back in the 15th century a collection of corvids was given the moniker “a murder of crows”.

There is something of the grave about the scavengers in bible black whether raven, carrion, common rook or jackdaw.

I extend by dislike to encompass magpies and jays too.

My view is perhaps a little jaundiced by the fact we used to have a pet jackdaw which lived in the bathroom and perched on your head when sat on the loo.

My father said jackdaws could be taught so speak but the imaginatively named Jack never said a word.

My brother and I also had a baby magpie for a while, but it died when it tried to eat a piece of string to which a conker from the previous autumn was still attached.

I am also no great lover of cushats – wood pigeons – another farmyard pest being given permission to plunder crops without fear of lead poisoning by Mr Packham and his well-meaning cronies.

Their amorous strutting and head bobbing round the rooftops is frankly rather disturbing, and all that cooing drives me up the wall.

They are also not the brightest creatures on the planet, as evidenced by the one which flew full pelt into the window of the Hextol Towers master bedroom the other day – less than 24 hours after the window cleaner had left.

It was like something out of a cartoon, as the bird hit the window and slid down the glass like Tom Cat in another unsuccessful attempt at capturing Jerry Mouse.

It left a perfect bird shaped waxy outline of spread wings and dopey head on the glass, which of course is beyond the reach of anything in our wide ranging window cleaning arsenal.

I have a pathological fear of climbing ladders since falling off one while stringing lights from a barn roof. I was completely unhurt, but now get a nosebleed if I ascend more than three rungs.