The times, they are a-changin’!
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