10 DECEMBER 1937, Page 17

Punctual Birds

Most of us in the country have noticed from time to time the nice punctuality of birds. How often, for example, have I first heard the nightingale in a particular clump of bushes on April 17th! The spring migration, however, is very much more definite, more slick, than the autumnal drift. We may not be able to prognosticate the arrival of the first flock of fieldfares within a month or more. This makes the experience of a dweller near Exeter the more remarkable. In consecutive years the first redwing to visit the garden was seen precisely on November 25th. It is not a very common bird in gardens and usually postpones its visits to southern England till days of harder weather. The owner of the garden is particularly lucky (or skilful in the art of attracting birds). Golden-crested wrens have appeared and a family of longtailed tits (the only small bird that retains the family connexion throughout the winter) feeds up against the window in the midst of that delicate and lovely creeper, solanum jasminoides. It is a picture that makes the mouth water. This year the coming of sudden, though belated, frost and snow just preceded the arrival of many of the winter migrants, notably woodcock, golden plover, and large flocks of green plover. The experience which is, I think, not unusual in winter, though very unusual in spring, suggests that the birds have some instinctive pre- monition of climatic changes.