The times, they are a-changin’!

Sporting Shooter - - Letters -

Ear­lier this year, I par­tic­i­pated in the RSPB’s Big Gar­den Bird­watch. Hav­ing com­pleted my cen­sus, I re­alised that the wood pi­geon was al­most the most preva­lent bird in my gar­den, only out­num­bered by a charm of goldfinches. Ap­par­ently, the wood pi­geon is now the fifth most com­mon gar­den bird in Eng­land, but I sup­pose there have been big changes in the av­er­age gar­den, even in the vil­lage in which I have lived all my life.

Back in the late 1970s, nearly ev­ery vil­lager still gar­dened for vegeta­bles out of habit or ne­ces­sity, and any wood pi­geon that took a fancy to their pro­duce would not be tol­er­ated and risked be­ing pot­ted by the irate gar­dener with an air ri­fle. (My great-un­cle was not al­ways pop­u­lar with his neigh­bours as he would be wait­ing at dawn for the pi­geons that were rav­aging his emerg­ing cab­bage plants. He never hes­i­tated to let loose with his old sin­gle-bar­rel 12-bore re­gard­less of the hour and would nowa­days be a can­di­date for an ASBO!)

The re­sult was that the pi­geons rarely ven­tured near habi­ta­tion and would flare away from a hu­man form on the hori­zon, whereas nowa­days they sit in the ap­ple tree and watch me with ca­sual be­muse­ment as I feed the dogs. Times, and the pi­geons’ habits, have cer­tainly changed.

M. Lorne, via email

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