1 OCTOBER 1948, Page 18

A Bird Census

There has been a scare—in Europe as in North America—that wild fowl, meaning duck and geese, were seriously diminishing. New laVys and, to some slight extent, a new interest, has already, I. think, arrested the minishment, but a continued effort to preserve is needed. To this end annual counts of wild fowl have been organised in the British Isles. The counts in the several localities, of which the record is now being made, give information on a host of subsidiary influences, such as water pollution, drainage, flooding, dates and routes of migration, causes of mortality, proportion of young and so on. The work is being organised by the British branch of the International Committee of Bird Preservation ; and with such far-flung migrants as duck and geese only international co- operation can be of much service. One of the discoveries of the first count is that in very mild winters, such as last, the birds never reach the more southerly and westerly district of their migrations, and leave for the north at a much earlier date. Another is that in some species there are good and bad breeding years, independent of the weather. Pintail duck, for example, had very few young in most districts. The first date ear-marked for the coming count is October 2nd. The more local observers contribute to the count the better. Already the correlation of local observations. has discovered hitherto unsuspected lines of migration.