Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/19

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inherent shyness as to take food from the hand, and the lakes, where Moorhens and Dabchicks are as much at home as the pinioned waterfowl with which they fraternise. The northern suburbs may have changed for the worse, but it is not so long since we could hear half-a-dozen Nightingales in full song and as many Blackcaps any spring morning at Highgate, and could there meet with birds so little likely to court observation as the Bullfinch and Hawfinch, while the notes of Nuthatch and Woodpecker came from private grounds which had retained some well-grown timber, and at dusk the Nightjar droned from the Bishop's Wood. The same neighbourhood recalls our first acquaintance with the quiet, seldom-heard song of the Butcher-bird, and a stroll over Hampstead Heath, of blessed memory, furnished a list of birds which would have done credit to a country ramble. Does the moorhen still haunt the Hampstead ponds,—scene of Mr. Pickwick's researches into the theory of tittlebats,—and does the sand-martin still burrow near by? With what joy we fled to those oases from the vast desert of bricks and mortar.

To such length have we been led by the desire to show that nowhere in our favoured land need the naturalist find his occupation gone. Hopeful, too, is the growing enlightenment of the youthful mind due to the inclusion of nature-study in the school-curriculum, so that no longer need we fear such errors of identification as that vouched for by a friend of ours, who, passing two small boys, who were leaning over a gate watching the excited evolutions of a pair of lapwings in the field beyond, heard one of them asseverate, "I tell you they are tom-tits." Closer knowledge and awakened interest will even prompt the village urchin to a better treatment of birds than has been the case in