22 FEBRUARY 1952, Page 13

A Starling Flock The movement of a starling flock across

a field might be described as a promenade of starlings, although most of the time, in their eagerness, they run. One can only guess at the amount of food they obtain in a field, but they must destroy thousands of grubs and beetles and the larvae of countless pests as yet unborn. Watching a flock, I was amused to see what a greedy tribe they are. One, swifter of foot than the rest, runs a yard or two ahead. His greedy brother sees him, and flutters up to overtake; and the urgency gets into the flock and the whole lot sails forward. Only hunger overcomes this desperate eagerness to be first among the titbits. They feed again, jerking about, beaks darting among the damp grass, and without seeming aware of the fact that they are within feet of the hedge. No time is lost. The flock shoots up, sails over, fans round and settles. On they go, quarrelling, complaining, feeding. Is it any wonder they go early to bed ? Long before dusk they go rushing over the cold countryside to their roost. At this time of the year they are in immature plumage. In a month the buff will have gone from the feathers, and we shall see the mag- nificent sheen that is on a cock-bird as he croons and chuckles and pipes to the morning sun.