Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/178

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Once inside the park fence, we may wander at will amongst the forest giants, gnarled, rugged and hollow, scattered about singly or in groups, knee-deep in fern. In June the fallow does with their newly-dropped fawns lie hidden amongst the fragrant bracken. The only wild fallow-deer in England are in Epping Forest; these are dark brown, almost black, in colour. Squirrels skip about on trunk and branch, their homes and fortresses. Rabbits scarcely trouble to move out of our path; the pheasants strolling about under the trees, watch us with a decided air of nonchalance, so well aware are both furred and feathered that the aegis of game-preserving is over them. Yet even in this sanctuary they are not entirely exempt from foes. A stoat comes slowly along the path, dragging a small rabbit, probably as heavy as itself. It scampers off, then, as we stand perfectly still, comes racing back to reconnoitre and finally succeeds in carrying off its victim. A fox, which springs out almost under our feet from a sort of lair where he has lain amongst the blue-bells, could account for the fate of more than one sitting pheasant. Yet, though a good stock of pheasants be the chief end and aim of game-preserving, no less necessary is it that the covers, when drawn, should not fail to produce a fox. Here a rabbits' nest, a double handful of soft dried grass and fur, has been pulled out of the short burrow which the doe rabbit makes for her brood. Possibly a badger is the