MUCH has been written recently about the presence of woodcock in central London. In days gone by, the corncrake (below), now rare in the UK and mostly confined to the Western Isles of Scotland, was a common sight in central Edinburgh.
In Memorials of His Time, published posthumously in 1856, Henry Cockburn, Whig politician, Solicitor General for Scotland and noted judge of the Court of Session, commented: ‘How can I forget the glory of that scene on the still nights on which… I have stood in Queen Street, or the opening at the north-west corner of Charlotte Square, and listened to the ceaseless rural corncrakes, nestling happily in the dewy grass.’ And this just a stone’s throw from the official residence of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Tom Drysdale, East Lothian
ITHINK I can throw some light on Marcus Rutherford’s woodcock encounter (Letters, January 18). If a bird takes flight or is blown out of a tree in a gale faster than its own top airspeed, it might have to go where the wind takes it. I was a vet with a clinic in Lewisham—not noted as a game-shooting district— some six miles from Shoe Lane as the woodcock flies. During a night shift, with a gale blowing, I once fielded a phonecall from a worried lady who’d come upon a cock pheasant in her back garden— what should she do about it? I’ve never regretted saying the first thing that came into my head: ‘Twenty-five minutes a pound, gas mark four.’ Chris Godfrey, Greater London