Wildlife Spotting in the Garden 7 – Song Thrush and Snails

Walking up the garden path this morning, I found this scattering of broken snail shells at the side of the path where there are a couple of stones.  They are evidence that a song thrush (Turdus philomelos) has been hunting for snails in the garden and cracking them open on the path or the stones next to it.

Snail shells broken by a thrush

I knew that we have thrushes in the garden.  A month or so ago, their song was the noisiest part of the dawn chorus.  More recently, when I have been sitting in the garden, I have heard a tapping sound coming from underneath bushes and behind shrubs, where the thrush was breaking open snails on a suitable ‘anvil’ stone, and one time, one hopped out from under cover, grabbed a snail off the path and disappeared with it into the undergrowth.

Song thrush

In the recent wet weather the snails have emerged from hiding, and when it has been raining, I have had to watch out not to step on them.  I usually pick them up off the path and put them into some bit of undergrowth that doesn’t contain some attractive flower.  There are plenty of spots where most of the plants are things like euphorbias that grow everywhere.  The snails are welcome to them, and the thrushes are welcome to the snails.

You can also identify the snails from their remains.  The one at the top left of the photo above is a brown-lipped snail (Cepaea nemoralis), which is one of the commonest in our garden, with its relative the white-lipped snail (Cepaea hortensis).  The photo below shows a cluster of snails (mostly white-lipped) on some old fencing, and also shows the variability of their shell patterns.

Snails on some old fencing