17 OCTOBER 1931, Page 13


The superlative is generally a mendacity ; but does one tamper with truth in suggesting that the . eccentricities of this season are beyond parallel? And. they have appeared in many queer details of natural history. Good observers, including that most thoughtful of husbandmen Mr. Montague Fordham, have seen and heard cuckoos in October, a phenomenon that puts in the shade the doubtful claims raised almost every year (but seldom substantiated) for the appearance of a March cuckoo. The cathedrals of Ely, Canterbury and St. Paul's have been used as perches by cormorants. It was credibly reported by two specialists (but has since been denied) that a widgeon had flown across the Atlantic to a Norfolk sanctuary. Large companies of small birds have met in London, apparently to enjoy the " flood lighting." Oddities of migration are appearing almost daily. It seems that the birds hardly know what to do. In spite of a most uncomfortable summer swallows have bred more profusely than usual, and are remaining late. The hive bees, which are more sensitive than most animals to weather, have gathered (in some regions) an unprecedented amount of honey. You would infer from the full combs a season of abundant sunshine. Rare butterflies have been common and common butterflies very rare, and abnormally late in appearance.