7 JUNE 1913, Page 16


[To THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR."1 SIR,—Your correspondent whose inquiries concerning certain birds of Hampstead suggest a fear that they can no longer be met with locally may derive some hope from my experience of a district even less rural than that from which he writes. The brown owl is common here, and its frequently-heard cry is a pleasant reminder of more distant scenes and wilder surroundings. I have often seen it, and quite recently one flew gently over my head across the road about eight o'clock in the evening and alighted on a tree close to St. Bartholomew's church. Cuckoos are heard every spring, and a willow wren is singing as I write close to the German church adjoining the railway. The flycatcher, too, is with us, and wrens sing almost continuously. One or two pairs of swifts haunt the immediate neighbourhood, but as yet 110 swallows or martins have been noticed. The chiff-chaff is occasionally heard, and last year I watched one as late as October 1st uttering its waning and feeble note. Many other species, including the lesser whitethroat, occur more or less abundantly, but the instances I have mentioned will suffice to show that within five minutes' walk of Sydenham Station is still to be found much to delight the ear and to awaken pleasant memories. Last winter, on some park-like land near Lordship Lane Station and within sight of Peckham and Camberwell, I heard a party of jays, and not far from the same spot a squirrel once narrowly escaped the wheels of my bicycle as it ran across the road, whilst in a small field at East Croydon by the Water Tower I have within recent years seen a kestrel hovering.—I am, Sir, &c.,