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which he has bestowed the name Caprimulgus tamaricis}
Between the months of April and October, our Nightjar is generally dispersed throughout the British Islands, even to the north of Caithness, extending also to the inner group of islands, but not reaching the Outer Hebrides. Mr. Robert Gray, of Glasgow, reports that it is not uncommon in Islay, Iona and Mull, and also in Skye, in all of which islands eggs have been found.
Stragglers have been observed in summer and autumn for several years in Shetland. The late Dr. Saxby saw it at Balta Sound about the end of July, skimming over the fields, and now and then alighting on the dykes, but he regarded its appearance in Shetland as merely accidental.
In Ireland this bird is considered to be a regular summer visitant to favourite localities in all quarters of the island, but of rare occurrence elsewhere.2
1 "The Land of Israel," p. 250.
2 Thompson, op. at.
In colour this bird resembles a large moth, being most beautifully and delicately streaked and mottled with various shades of black, brown, grey, and buff, but in appearance it is not unlike a hawk, having long pointed wings more than seven inches in length, and a tail about five inches long. The male differs from the female in having a large heart-shaped spot upon the inner web of the first three quill feathers, and broad white tips to the two outer tail feathers on each side.
The mottled brown appearance of the bird when reposing either on the ground or on the limb of a large tree, is admirably adapted to screen it from observation even within a few yards of the observer. It delights in furzy commons, wild heathery tracts, and broken hilly ground covered with ferns, particularly in the neighbourhood of woods and thickets, and is especially partial to sandy soils. I have frequently seen this bird upon the bare sand, either in a sandpit or under the lee of a furzebush, where it appeared to be basking in the sun, and from the disturbed appearance of the soil in some places, I imagine that it dusts itself as the Skylark does, to get rid of the small parasites with which, like many other birds, it is infested. On the 16th of May this year, at Uppark, Sussex, I found one asleep on the carriage drive within twenty yards of the house. The gravel was quite warm, and the bird was so loth to be disturbed that I almost succeeded in covering it with my hat before it took wing. On another occasion in September, when strolling along the beach near Selsea, I came suddenly upon a Nightjar sitting below highwater mark on the warm shingle, where it appeared to be thoroughly enjoying the afternoon sun. It dozes away the greater part of the day, and if disturbed only flies a short distance before re-alighting. Its loud and peculiar whirring note, reminding one of the noise made by a knife-grinder's wheel, is never heard until the evening, when, in districts where the bird is common, it resounds far and near.
loqujal in the sound, caused by the bird turning its head from side to side, both up and down, and scattering, as it were, the notes on every side.
It makes no nest, but scraping a hollow on the bare ground deposits two ellipse-shaped eggs beautifully mottled with two shades of grey and brown, and quite unlike those of any other British bird. The young are hatched in about a fortnight or rather more, and until fully fledged their appearance is singularly ugly. They are covered with a grey down, and their enormous mouths and large prominent eyes give them an expression which is almost repulsive. By pegging the young down with long "jesses," as one would a Hawk, I have secured them until fully fledged, the old birds feeding them regularly ; but on taking them home and turning them into an aviary I could not succeed in keeping them long alive, owing to the difficulty in procuring suitable food, and my inability to give them constant attention.
During the month of September, when shooting amongst low underwood and felled timber, I have not unfrequently disturbed a Nightjar, and on such occasions, when flying away startled, its flight so much resembles that of a Hawk that I have twice seen a keeper shoot one, exclaiming, " There goes a Hawk!" I was not a little surprised one day at finding one of these birds in the middle of a turnip-field. We had marked down some birds at the far end, and the dogs were drawing cautiously on when one of them flushed a Nightjar, which my friend immediately shot—in mistake, as he afterwards said, for a Woodcock.
Notwithstanding what has been said to the contrary, the Nightjar, Night-hawk, Fern Owl, or Goatsucker, as it is variously called in different parts of the country, is one of the most inoffensive birds imaginable. By farmers it is accused of robbing cows and goats of their milk, and by keepers it is remorselessly shot as "vermin;" but by both classes its character is much maligned. Its food is purely insectivorous, and it is as incapable of sucking milk as it is of carrying off and preying