Wednesday, 28 December 2011

A song thrush sings

WE live on a main road, so the chances of hearing bird "song" are confined to tawny owls in the middle of the night and a passing gull.  However staying at my parents' over Christmas, I was not sorry to be woken at dawn by the flutely tones of a song thrush.  Joining it was a robin and a wood-pigeon.

The song thrush has had a hard time of late.  I have heard the theory that this may be due to the reduction of snails through the use of slug pellets in our gardens.  This seems somewhat unlikely to me, as I sometimes use pellets and our snail population is still overwhelming...maybe we have a particularity tasty garden.

The song thrushes song is half way between a blackbird (clear, tuneful, structured and strident) and a mistlethrush (melancholy, high pitched, unstructured and strident).  The song thrush repeats every phrase that it sings, and this is the big give away that helps you to identify it, even when half a sleep!

Robert Browning wrote:

That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!*

(*Copied from British Garden Birds)

The mistle thrush seems to love singing in the worst of wild and gusty weather, and hence has acquired the name "storm cock".

Anyway, hearing the song of this song thrush certainly fills me with optimism for a spring that is just round the corner, however we all know what February and March can be like and I do want that snow shovel that I bought my dad to have some use this year!

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