15 OCTOBER 1954, Page 17

Country Life

As I write, the sky is a hedge-sparrow blue, the sun is up and a tractor is on its way along the back road, its sound echoing from the stone walls there and fading again as the noise finds new avenues of escape at bends and turns. Above it all, for this sound is no louder than a bee near at hand, I can hear the voices of countless sparrows. Every sparrow in the district seemed to be in one tree, either searching for insects or twittering and squabbling and fluttering until the tree Itself was alive with sound and. movement • in every twig and limb. These sparrow congre- gations are fascinating. Sometimes they appear to be for the sole purpose of thrashing out differences, and the infectious excitement brings more and more birds every second until all natural wariness has gone. The disturbance in the tree outside was well advanced when a crop-eared cat came stalking along. He went up the tree trunk in three lithe bounds and for a minute I was sure he would do great slaughter, but the alarm sounded. The birds left the tree in all direc- tions and in a little while the cat came down again. I had a feeling that all this had happened before to both cat and birds. The sparrows moved into new quarters almost at once and began their arguments afresh. The cat ignored them this time. I expect he will wait for those sparrows later on, one at a time, in the holly bush.