Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The thrush's return

Such good news that I had to share it with you.

Rupert and I went down to the garden an hour or so ago. For me it was time to feed the fish, and to scoop the duckweed off the surface of the pond.
For Rupert . . . ? Well, who can read Rupert's mind, but it had a lot to do with smells . . . and rustles . . . and possible foxes . . . and all things exciting.

Ever since the heron's predatory visits, the fish have been far more cautious in coming to be fed. Which isn't an altogether bad thing.
I scatter the food on the surface, leave it for them to discover, and settle down on the earth beside the pond to remove the duckweed.

This is a most enjoyable occupation. You first of all need to break a dead twig from a nearby bush. Preferably a forked twig, and one that is long and stout. Then, sitting or crouching by the pond, you gently skim the surface with the twig and scoop off the surplus duckweed. If the duckweed gets too thick it prevents the fish from coming to the surface. It also prevents the sunlight from penetrating. However, a certain amount of duckweed is good as it offers shelter and concealment.

Clearing duckweed is a rhythmic, easy occupation, rather like scything must be. In fact, sitting there on the earth, arm outstretched over the water, gently scooping the twig and lifting the weed out of the water . . . well, it's wholly pleasurable and pleasantly soothing. I thoroughly enjoy it.

Sitting there a few minutes ago I heard a rustle in the bushes behind me. My first thought was that it must be one of the local foxes. The foxes frequently takes this route when moving through the undergrowth. Very cautiously, I swung round to investigate. It wasn't a fox, it was something infinitely more exciting. It was the first thrush I've seen in the garden for over ten years!

I don't know whether you know about the sad recent history of the thrush. Man has decreed that snails and slugs are 'bad'. Accordingly, man puts down slug pellets and kills the snails and slugs. What man hasn't taken into account is that these dead snails and slugs are eaten by the song birds, in particular the thrushes, and the poison in the dead snails and slugs makes the birds' eggs infertile. It's a tragic scenario . . . the poor birds sitting there on their nests, week after week, waiting for the eggs to hatch . . . and it never happens.

But here, after ten years' absence, was a very much alive, very energetic and very beautiful thrush. It was poking around for food in the dead leaves behind me.
I didn't want to startle this welcome arrival by telling it how thrilled I was to see it . . . so, I'm telling you instead!