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High Level Songsters

2nd of April 2009

A nice, dry and often sunny week at the beginning of March has found me at the top of a ladder pruning some of our old and unruly John Standish apple trees. John Standish are the only apple trees I know that like to grow straight up, like sky rockets, and we never seem to have time to prune all of the trees. One had got really out of hand and I have had to cut out branches over 26 feet long from the top of a ladder. Whilst I have been hanging on for grim death and singing to keep my spirits up, a Mistle thrush has been singing its heart out from the very top of our tallest tree. They often start singing in December and are usually the first bird to be in full song. I think the colder weather must have delayed them this year, as they often have eggs in February. This one was definitely proclaiming its territory and calling for a mate.The Mistle thrush is bigger than a Song thrush and has bigger, bolder spots on its breast with grey-brown upper parts. When it flies over head one can see its pure white under wings. A Song thrush has creamy yellow under wings, and a Red wing, another member of the thrush family, has coppery red. The Mistle thrush, though perhaps not quite as melodious as a Song thrush, is the loudest of all the thrushes, and always chooses a tall tree to sing from, even in a gale. This has earned it the nick name ” storm cock”. They are always welcome in the garden, not just for their song, as they eat slugs and snails and we have plenty of those!Its frog spawning time again and the wildlife pond is teeming with frogs and of course the Heron is in attendance seeking an easy meal. I am trying to train Ted, our dog, to run down the ride and chase it off. Ted thinks its great fun to run about while I race down the garden waving a tea towel, newspaper, or anything else that comes to hand and yelling ” CLEAR OFF” or ” BANG”. I am not sure what people on the footpath make of it though!Wendy Bathurst

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