JOHN has on hire a new boy’s toy. A bright yellow digger, closely akin to the sort of machines that my grandson still likes to play. Except that this is not a toy and John is not building houses; he is clearing rides through a wood for his shoot.

What you need most when operating these diggers is good hand eye coordination. It is a bit like rubbing your head in one circular motion, while rubbing your tummy in an anti-circular move, both at the same time.

In the digger the left hand joystick in the cabin controls both the left and right swing and the away and close movement of the stick boom. While the right hand joystick controls the up and down action of the main boom and the close and dump of the bucket. I think that’s right.

The wood he is opening up has become totally overgrown. The rides were there years ago, but the wood has long been neglected. It is dark and gloomy and not at all enticing for pheasants or any other wildlife.

After a hiccup early on when an oil pipe burst on the machine, he has virtually completed the job and “let there be light”. The judicious placing of several new feeders on the rides is tempting pheasants back into the wood. So yesterday evening I was invited on a romantic rendezvous to watch the pheasants.

John’s gator is the ideal viewing platform for this activity. As the cab is made of tinted glass you are virtually invisible when sat inside looking out under the trees. We were parked virtually next to a feeder, but the birds appeared totally unaware of our proximity.

The same was true about a pair of roe deer that delicately picked their way along the new drives where there are still some crushed branches and twigs on the ground. They nuzzled at the fallen wheat beneath the feeders but, spooked perhaps by the sound of Moss our spaniel puppy bouncing around in the gator cab, gracefully bounded out of the wood.

And Moss was the only drawback to what could have been an idyllic, peaceful, contemplative observation of nature at dusk.

Instead what you are when shut in a small cab with a manic, exuberant, hyper active spaniel, is a human trampoline base, which said spaniel has no compunction in using to bounce on from one side of the cab to the other.

Luckily she does not bark which would have scared off every bird in the vicinity. And romance? Forget it with a spaniel in the cab.