26 MARCH 1954, Page 13


Songs of British Birds: Brun.10473/4/5/6.

FIRST-YEAR scholars in the bird school will accord nine if not ten marks out of ten for these four ten-inch records of the voices of twenty-seven common British species. The songs are sensibly grouped in broad habitats such as garden and parks, field and hedge- row and so on. Second-year scholars may wonder how the robin came to have such a reedy and un-rounded voice; they may also doubt the wisdom of devoting valuable record space to such unconfusable rasps and trills as those of the coot and the moorhen.

Ornithological graduates would, no doubt, re-arrange the whole series and match the missel-thrush against the blackbird, reject the song-thrush altogether and include some of the more dunnock-like arpeggios of annoyed or amorous wrens as well as the thin notes of redwings and hawfinches. They might also wonder why the great tit was not allowed to range beyond his typical but by no means exclusive ker-pink, ker- pink, ker-pink. But expert ornithologists are pernicketty fellows and these records con- tain not only the first scales but also a fair amount of the very pastoral symphony of those who will this week be tuning their sensitive ears to the first cheep of the chiff- chaff.

J. H.