16 NOVEMBER 1945, Page 16


SOME notes taken (in North Britain) about the House Martins well illus- trate the effect of weather ,on the population of birds. The Martins did not arrive till May 6th, and meetingpfoul weather did not begin building till a month later. They attempted to rear only one brood instead of the usual two or three (I have known four). They left much earlier than usual. In my neighbourhood the Martins disappeared early, but the Swallows stayed rather later than-their wont. Are they more prognostic of weather, for our Indian summer was warm enough and populous enough with insects to satisfy any bird? As to dates of nesting an almost official enquiry has been made into the alleged paucity of Green Plover; and a number of naturalists aver that protection has done harm. They urge that it should be lawful to take eggs up to April t5th but not later. There is no doubt at all that sea-birds increased steadily (on the York- shire coast) after egg-taking was legalised up to a fixed date, for the reason that this meant stricter protection at a later date. It is possible that Plover might so benefit ; but the reason for ill-success of Plover parents has been a change in agricultural habits. Much earlier hay- making has damaged many birds.