BIRD LIFE THROUGHOUT THE YEAR
first Cuckoo. The white-rumped House Martin, always later to arrive than the swallow, twitters once more about its nest under the eaves. The Wood Wren is whispering in the tops of the beeches, and a halfsmothered babbling from the tangle of briers and brambles tells where the Whitethroat is soliloquizing sotto voce over his home-coming. Meanwhile, from the thicket by the stream-side the Sedge Warbler chatters and scolds, and the persistent note of the Grasshopper Warbler rings on the ear, one of our strangest bird voices, like the stridulation of cricket or cicada in its monotony, or resembling rather the noise made by the angler's reel as it spins round when he makes a cast. Unless we live in western or northern England, in some land of hill and dale, we shall scarcely be likely to see the Pied Flycatcher, and this is unfortunate, for, with its pleasing habits and song and boldly-contrasted livery of black and white, there is no more charming bird upon our list.
April will be almost giving place to May when some still night we hear from the hay-meadow the Corncrake's strident discord, welcome at first, later to become exasperating in its rasping monotony, more especially if the performer has located himself under our window. There are other migrants yet to follow, but for these we must await the warmer sun and leafier woods of May.