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A Remarkable Flight of Birds


I HAVE not noticed any reference to the extraordinary flight of birds that was observed in many parts of Devon on the morning of December 2l, after the first heavy fall of snow took place at the beginning of the present severe weather. At eight o'clock on Sunday morning I was astonished at a continuous stream of skylarks flying overhead in a westerly direction. The flight continued for more than an hour after that in the most astonishing numbers. Over 500 were counted in three minutes, and the cloud of birds seemed endless in every direction. An old farmer here said that he had seen a similar thing about ten years ago. The birds then were found on the estuaries, and by the sea-coast of Cornwall, where they died by thousands. Several letters have appeared in the local papers announcing a similar migration on the same morning, so that there must have been millions of birds on the wing. One correspondent mentions other birds, thrushes and blackbirds, &c., as well, but here I saw only skylarks. I have seen no record of their destination. It would be interesting to know if any of your readers could tell us where the birds went. They were all flying towards Cornwall. I observed also large detached flocks of plover, flying towards Dartmoor, on the edge of which I live, in a southerly direction. The appearance of these birds all hasting away in perfect silence was almost weird in the dead stillness, all the ground and every twig and bush being covered with deep snow, and not a breath of wind stirring.

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SPICER, E. A Remarkable Flight of Birds. Nature 43, 222–223 (1891).

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