SIR: Having defended the peregrines of Winchester last year, when they were similarly accused of killing a reader's garden birds, I have tried not to become involved this time.

When such emotive and misguided language is used to call these beautiful birds 'screaming bullies' however,I really feel that I should try and set the record straight.

All of our gardens see a decrease in small birds during the late summer and early autumn, this is quite natural; breeding has finished and there are berries in the fields to eat, leading to less visits to bird tables.

As several readers have said, the most likely predators of our garden birds are domestic cats and sparrow hawks. Unlike peregrines the latter is superbly designed to fly through small spaces in our hedges etc and female sparrow hawks are quite capable of killing birds as large as a spotted woodpecker.

Many cats are also major predators of birds, but both are only doing what comes naturally; it is pointless to blame them for it.

All of our wildlife is now declining at an alarming rate thanks to the worst predator of all: Homo sapiens.

Nature may indeed be ' red in tooth and claw' but we should celebrate its diversity whilst we still have the time, and hope that at least some of these beautiful creatures are still around for our children to enjoy.

Mrs Michelle Fox-Rousell,

St Cross Road,