19 SEPTEMBER 1931, Page 13

A week or so later than the harvesting of this

Lancashire field I watched the cutting of a big field of lucerne in Hert- fordshire. The farmer, with his gun at his side, was enjoying an alfresco tea (until such time as the sauve qui peut should begin), when he and others with him heard the lamentable cry .of a rabbit. It had been seized and killed by a stoat within a few yards of where he -sat. It was an illustration of the famous Aristophanic metaphor that you can but catch eels in muddied water. The vermin, whose nerves are of steel, had used the dazed condition of the rabbits for profitable hunting. The field was an extraordinary example of the harm rabbits may inflict. The lucerne crop was admirable, except over an area of some two acres next to the dell-hole, as it is called in that part of the world, where the warren lies. These acres looked like a well-mown grass field. You could scarcely find a stem of lucerne at all. Within the standing crop were a number of beds of lucerne made of stems neatly bitten off and collected for bed-making. In this same field some years ago I saw a rabbit lie motionless

and quite unhurt in its form, after the knives had passed over it.