Country Corner

A bonny song thrush recently foraged in front of one of my camera traps.

This made me realise how rarely this happens.

Blackbirds are caught on the traps almost daily.

Forgive me harping back to the Stone Age yet again, but when I was a boy, it seemed blackbird and song thrush numbers were more or less equal.

Then slug pellets were invented and song thrush numbers plummeted.

Whether this was due to the reduced numbers of slugs and snails, or whether the pellets poisoned the thrushes as well as the slugs, is a moot point.

What I do know is that dogs were regularly poisoned by the early slug pellets, which were absolutely lethal to anything eating them.

I have even known earthworms surfacing on rainy nights to eat the pellets.

These worms died on the surface and were still there at dawn when the gulls arrived. Result was lots of dead gulls!

So you will forgive me for not being much of a fan of slug pellets.

Nor do I believe the reassurances which appear on packs of modern slug pellets.

In fact, I am reluctant to believe anything I read on pesticide packaging these days.

However, I have warned my readers against chemicals in the garden on numerous occasions.

Let me end on a brighter note by telling you to watch out for song thrushes now.

These are mainly migrants, flown in from the pesticide free northern arboreal zones to take advantage of our mild winters.

You will surely recognise them from their most ermine of breasts, though beware of confusion with redwing, fieldfare and mistle thrush which all have speckles to some degree.