Friday 12 June 2009


In Holland Park just now, I watched a song thrush whacking a snail on the pavement to break its shell and turn it into a tasty turdine treat. Ah yes, I thought, typical song thrush behaviour - this is what they are supposed to do. And then it occurred to me that I hadn't actually seen a thrush do that for years. Of course there are (sadly) fewer song thrushes around these days, but I suspect there's more to it than that. You just can't rely on animals to reliably perform their 'typical behaviour', to do what they're supposed to do; they endlessly confound our expectations. Any edition of Springwatch, with its surprises and non-events, amply confirms this. And those well-wrought wildlife documentaries that the BBC prides itself on give an entirely misleading impression in this as in so many things. What's necesarily missing from the story are the long hours, days, weeks even, waiting for the moment when the creature under observation finally does the thing it's supposed to do. Anyway, I'm glad to have seen that thrush doing what thrushes do - and to have finally used the word 'turdine'.


  1. ahh good old Turdus Philomelos. I was speaking to a thrush in the pub the other day who told me that they just don't have time to prepare meals from scratch like they used to anymore, and now they mostly subsist on microwaveable Rustlers chicken burgers and McCain micro-chips.

  2. Hoho - that's probably the explanation...