12 APRIL 1935, Page 14

Urban Birds It happened also at St. Albans. This antique

and charming city has certain rural attractions that must be peculiar to it. A query reached me the other day about a bird with a long beak seen diving almost to the ground. It was, of course, a snipe ; and it is not rare but common for snipe to be seen above the streets and heard and seen " drumming " above the Ver that runs through the city's edge. It is a little- river peculiarly attractive to the snipe ; they were not fonder of Eaton Square in the days of our not very remote ancestors, and much rarer birds, among them the snipe-like little stint,- are to be found there in winter. The danger of the banishment of the birds is threatened less by the town than the river itself. A most charming little tributary, that has always flowed freely, is still, in spite of winter rains, bone-dry. The water-level has fallen below the nucleus of the spring at the river's source. This is by the lower slopes of the Chilterns, but reports at least as serious come from Essex and the claylands.