13 APRIL 1956, Page 35


At this time of year the sun warms a bank, a water-hole or a dried-up ditch, and insect life appears where there seemed to be none before. Without this awakening there would be no food for the fly-catcher, the swallow, or even the toad. I spent some time a few days ago watching the behaviour of several birds that had discovered insects encouraged by the springsunshine on a great mound of dead leaves and sweepings dumped inoa corner. The flies appeared as though by magic. Sometimes the birds, three robins, a pair of hedge- sparrows and a wren, that might otherwise have been about their domestic affairs, detected the flies before they took wing, but now and then flies managed to become airborne and the hedge-sparrows took them in flight. Some house-sparrows joined the company, but soon departed. It was warm, and although the mouldering heap was providing a banquet, the same sunshine was producing insects and feasts elsewhere. Perhaps for the first time since last uautumn there was more than the resident birds could manage.