BIRD LIFE THROUGHOUT THE YEAR
tamely before us or wade knee-deep in the shallows, while amongst the tufts of sedge, under shelter of the bog myrtles, is a Snipes' nest, containing newly-hatched young in their richly variegated down, amongst which dull red predominates.
But forward again, over heather-grown slopes, now broken by a few rocky ledges where the growth is taller, having escaped burning when the moor was fired in order that the tender shoots of the ling, as it begins to grow again, may afford food for the grouse. Here we may expect to find the Merlin, and sure enough, with sharp ringing note our gallant little falcon cleaves the air, in outline not unlike a large swift. In a hollow, deep down amongst the heather, are the four red eggs, smaller and more finely marked than those of the kestrel, in the slightest of nests—a mere handful of moss and dried grass. Much persecuted by the game-watcher for reputed depredations amongst the young grouse is the blue-backed merlin, though, judging from its castings, its usual prey appears to be the meadow-pipit, with an occasional wheatear or ring-ouzel. No doubt also the twite, the "yellow-billed lintie" of the Scotch moors, furnishes it with many a meal.
The merlin's noble relative, the Peregrine Falcon, naturally meets with scant shrift, and is now banished from the neighbourhood of most grouse-moors, though a number of eyries remain upon the coast, usually upon