26 NOVEMBER 1937, Page 17

A Tin Drum

Now for this observer's evidence. Last May he and some of his neighbours were awakened, and indeed disturbed, each morning by a loud noise that sounded metallic. After a prolonged period of sleuth work it was discovered that the noise proceeded from the top of a post (probably put there for wireless reasons) that rose in the middle of a large tree. After many failures the observer eventually succeeded in discovering that the author of the noise was a lesser spotted woodpecker. The crown of the post was covered with a hood of metal ; and it was on this metal that the bird banged in the early morning hours. There was no doubt at all that the bird banged the metal with quick and repeated blows of the beak and so produced the excep- tionally loud noise. The noise was so loud that the owner of the land, not being interested in the scientific aspect of the matter, finally removed the pole. The woodpecker returned the next day and made a feeble attempt at drumming on the tree, and then flew away. The drumming had been successful from the bird's point of view, for the drummer had been joined by his mate just before the removal of the metalled pole. The metal was examined after the removal and showed nothing more than a slight discoloration where the hammering had taken place.