« AnteriorContinuar »
June being the only one in which there may be said to be absolutely no migration, as during the month of July Cuckoos and some Beeeaters return to the south."
A S the Swallows are amongst the first to .*. *• arrive, so they are amongst the last to depart. Long before chill winds and falling leaves have ushered in the month of October, the Warblers, Pipits, and Flycatchers have. left the woods and fields, and hurried down to the coast on their southward route. But the Swallows, loth to leave us, linger on far into the autumn, and only bid us adieu when they miss the genial influence of the sun's rays, and can no longer find a sufficient supply of food. The sportsman who crosses the country with dog and gun in October cannot fail to remark the absence of the numerous small birds which were so conspicuous throughout the summer. The Wheatear has deserted the rabbit warren; the Stonechat and Whinchat have left the furzy common, to make way for the Linnet and the Brambling. In the turnip fields, Thrushes and Meadow Pipits have usurped the place of Whitethroats and Yellow Wagtails; while in the thick hedgerows and coverts noisy Tits now occupy the boughs which were so lately tenanted by the less attractive but more tuneful Willow Wrens.
To the reflecting naturalist, this curious change of bird life furnishes a subject for meditation in many a day's walk, and is a source of much pleasant occupation. Whether we study the birds themselves in their proper haunts, ascertain the nature of their food and their consequent value to man as a cultivator of the soil; or inquire into the cause of their migration, and their distribution in other parts of the world, we have at all times an interesting theme to dwell upon.
From a perusal of the foregoing chaplcrH it will be seen that "our summer migrantH" muy
be classified into certain well-defined groups, according to their structure and habits, and the haunts which they frequent. Upon the wild open wastes and commons we find the Chats, to which family belong the Whinchat, the Stonechat, and the well-known Wheatear. In the hedgerows and copses are to be seen the three species of Willow Warblers—the Wood Wren, Willow Wren, and Chiff-chaff. Wooded gardens and fruit trees attract the Garden Warbler, Blackcap, and Whitethroats; and the thick sedge and waving flags by the waterside shelter the various species of River Warblers. In the open meadows and moist places by the river bank or sea coast we need not search long to find the Pipits and Wagtails; and while the Flycatchers perch familiarly on our garden walls, or pick the aphis off the fruit trees, the Swallows build under our very eaves, and claim our protection for their young. High above all, the noisy Swift holds his rapid, wondrous flight, wheeling and screaming to his heart's content.
At all these birds we have now taken a peep.
We have found them in their proper haunts,
examined their skill as architects, and their
powers as musicians. We have inquired into
the nature of their food, the number and colour
of their eggs, and their mode of rearing their
young; any peculiar adaptation of structure to
habits or curious mode of living has been duly
noted; and, not content with studying them at
home, we have followed these delicate visitors
to foreign climes, and found them in their
It is hoped that the reader ere he closes this volume will have gleaned some little information that may be new to him concerning these most interesting families of small birds, whose fairy forms in summer time flit so continually before us, and whose presence or absence makes so great a difference to the naturalist in his enjoyment of a country walk.