20 AUGUST 1948, Page 14

• Quitters

A 'curious account reaches Me from a Surrey resident of the sudden and total disappearance of the swifts (sometimes called black-martins) on the approach of a cold bout of weather on August 8th, or thereabouts. Now swifts, which come late and go early (like the leaves of the ash) usually -leave Scotland in the first week of August ; the grouse-shooters see none ; but there is seldom a general departure from southern Fngland till the end of the month. However, the species is perhaps more sensitive to weather than most, certainly more than swallows and martins, and many early departures are on record. What a strange bird it is! It has no backward-pointing claw, and is adapted only for clinging to vertical supports. Its wing movements, in themselves distinctive, are the more conspicuous by the immense length of the wings. In this regard it more nearly resembles the storm-petrel than the martin or even the swallow.