FRANCIS Minay's Ornithologist's Lament (Poem of the Day, September 25) regrets the absence of many varieties of birds that, in his youth, haunted Midlothian's fields.

This year in West Dunbartonshire I am regretting the absence of the flocks of blackbirds, thrushes and fieldfares which have, every year until now, decimated my two rowan trees. Within two or three weeks of the berries ripening they were stripped bare. An inquiry to the RSPB suggested that they may be moulting and as such be flightless. This explanation seems rather improbable as there has been a marked absence of blackbirds around the bird table all summer. Flocks of goldfinches and our pair of collard doves have also disappeared.

It seems this may be part of an overall picture but a very real concern for the future nevertheless.

Liz Meechie, near Dumbarton.

THELMA Edward’s interaction with a noisy corncrake (Letters, September 27), reminds me of one summer many years ago when one of its loquacious and musically-challenged buddies took up residence in a nearby field.

When our very young children were told the identity of the repeated disturbance they refused their breakfast one morning, I kid you not, on concern over the source of their customary cereal.

To this day I am unsure if their concern was genuine or early evidence of their skill in taking their daddy for a ride.

R Russell Smith, Kilbirnie.