4 JANUARY 1930, Page 20


May I make a suggestion as to a small and unimportant detail of beautification ? The great reservoirs which hold London's water are enclosed by high sloping banks on which a number of shrubs have been planted. Last week some of us spent the better part of a day in climbing up these banks at various places in order to ambush the wild birds that frequent the waters. Indeed, we entirely perambulated one of the biggest lakes. Now the favourite shrub was the laurel ; but over the whole space where laurel was planted I did not see one single small bird ; and the stiff clumps of laurel were no compensation. Small birds were plentiful elsewhere. Indeed, I saw my first redwings of the year ; and the number of pipits was reniarkable. Where brambles and thorns abound birds of some rarity meet in the spring. One particular bit of bank housed last year three pairs of red shrikes. In all a good variety of shrubs has been planted, though where the laurels are thick they are hidden. The dogwood does well and is attractive ; and one variety of berberis gave pleasant colouring. Almost all the gorse is in flower. I should like to see clumps of berberis stenophylla ; but the most useful for the encouragement of birds are thorn and bramble and briar and gorse. I have always felt—though it is doubtless most irreligious—that when the Garden of Eden degenerated into thorns and briars it must have had this compensation, that it remained (or became) a paradise for most of the small birds.