Sunday, 4 January 2015

The wise thrush

... as Robert Browning called the song thrush (turdus philomelos, grive musicienne) in "Home Thoughts from Abroad":
There's the wise thrush:
He sings each song twice over
Lest you think he never could recapture
That first fine careless rapture.
I make no apologies for re-posting Tim's stunning portrait.
We have included the song thrush in a previous post here.

At this time of year the thrushes don't do a lot of singing, but they do fill themselves with food. This one was working a patch of rough meadow for grass snails.

Curses! I'm spotted!

When the weather is frosty, the snails hide in the thick vegetation and seal themselves up

Searching the bramble patch

I watched him or her pick out eight snails in about fifteen minutes, and take them to a spot out of sight behind a bramble bush.  When I went to refill the bird feeders in the meadow, this is what I found.

Thrush anvil

What looks like a slightly paler patch of earth is a rough lump of stone projecting slightly from the muddy soil. (The meadow is mostly alluvium, but with some quite substantial rocks in, and this is also the site of the former mill). It is surrounded by a scatter of broken grass snail shells. Clearly the thrush is using it as an anvil. It stands beside or on the anvil holding the snail shell in its beak and wellies it against the rock until it breaks. Then the thrush eats the goodies inside.

The French name, "Musician thrush" is a charming description of one of my favourite singers..


Colin and Elizabeth said...

Looks like he has done a good job... Those won't be eating next years veg..

Sheila said...

I love the thrush song. When we
lived in Vermont, we would sit
out on the deck and listen to them
singing to one another on summer

Tim said...

C&E: millions more where they came from I'm afraid! They have quite a long walk to the veg patch thank goodness. Sheila: I was transfixed once by a thrush singing from a low branch just above my head. I just stood and listened to it.