26 DECEMBER 1931, Page 14

Country Life


Some weeks ago a short account was given of a lark taking refuge between a yachtsman's feet in the Solent in order to escape the pursuit of a sparrow hawk. My postbag now gives the itinerary of that paragraph nearly half round the world. The first week corroborative anecdotes came froin various parts of the British Isles ; a week or so later from the Con- tinent. They have arrived successively since then from India, Africa and New York, and, this week, from California. Doubtless, they will come presently from the Antipodes. This temporary absence of fear in birds may be brought about by weariness as well as by a superior fear. One Cali- fornian correspondent has twice seen a migrant bird come down on a children's playing field. In each case the bird was picked up and tended, and gave no sign of fear of any sort. Each was finally released and flew off at once in the wake of its vanished company. Personally, I know of one similar incident. A migrating corncrake dived straight down from a great height in front of a group of sportsmen. No one had shot, and the bird was picked up apparently unhurt. The cause lies probably in utter weariness in a bird either too young for the long journey or, if older, still suffering from the weakness of the auttunn moult, which is often particularly apparent in swallows.