Wan­der­ing wild­fowl

Country Life Every Week - - Letters To The Editor -

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

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