Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/228

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avoid observation. Even the tits, irrepressible as a rule, are but little in evidence. In short, there is no month when birds lend less of colour and cheerful activity to the country-side, in keeping with the fact that August landscapes are less bright and varied than those of either the preceding or the succeeding month.

Wild flowers are largely over; foliage has lost its freshness and has the dull and tarnished look which it will wear until touched by the dying glories which precede its fall. The hedges along the main roads are covered with a coating of dust, which grows ever deeper as the automobile multiplies and spreads through the land. Beside such highways dust hangs heavy on the feathery-seeded clematis, renders the blackberries uneatable, hides the deepening crimson of hips and haws. Happy the country-lanes which are exempt from the passage of the destroyer of rural peace, the hot chalk-banks alive with butterflies, the low-lying meads where the grass, helped by the heavy morning dews of late summer, deepens into a rich aftermath.

A moderately wet August tends to preserve the beauties of summer leafage, while drought brings the sere and yellow leaf before its time. In time of drought, as of frost, the thrushes search the hedge-bottoms to turn out the yellow-banded snails. Then the shrunken ponds yield the carrion-crow a feast of fresh-water mussels. Then, too, assaults upon the fruit-garden become more frequent and systematic.