3 DECEMBER 1954, Page 15

A Flight of Doves The rock-dove is not exactly common

or well-known, for it is selective in its haunts and breeding places. Certain coasts and cliffs have colonies of the birds, but in other places the rock-dove is unknown. Whether it is on the increase or decrease I cannot say. I hope it is multiplying, because it is a bird I admired very much when, as a boy, I visited pigeon caves on a particularly rocky part of the coast of south-west Scotland. The caves were dank places strewn with the feathers of the doves. It was hard to reach the nests for the boulders were invariably slime-covered and slippery, so that I had to be content to overlook what nests I could by climbing to vantage points at the entrances to the caves. I was reminded of the rock-doves when I saw a flight of birds coming round the cliffs the other day. They had the same lightness that belongs to the pigeon family—with the exception of the woodie—but they were not rock-doves, nor were they homing pigeons. They turned out to be another member of the family—stock- doves, which seem to be more common now than they once were.