Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/238

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nicotiana at dusk, the corncrake has become silent, and the nightjar no longer "churrs," though we may surprise it some warm day basking and dusting like a barn-door fowl in the middle of the sandy path which leads to the heath.

August sees the ripening of the first hedge-row fruits and berries, bringing to the birds a foretaste of the rich harvest which is to follow. Amongst the first come the scarlet clusters of the mountain-ash, so beloved of thrush and blackbird that the whole crop is sometimes cleared off within a week. The Mistle Thrush, largest and boldest of his kind, usually comes in for the lion's share. See him as he balances with difficulty by the help of wings and tail, reaching greedily hither and thither after the ruddy fruit, even venturing in quest of it into town gardens and close to the windows of houses, strewing the ground beneath the tree with berries dropped in his haste. It is the flocking of the mistle-thrushes in late summer which leads country observers to write to the papers from time to time reporting an unusually early arrival of the fieldfare. Both are large thrushes, which have a harsh note and show the white undersides of their wings as they fly—hence the error.

The interest of the stout-billed Hawfinch in fruits and berries of this kind is of a different nature; when seen visiting the mountain-ash or cotoneaster he is in quest of the seed-kernels which he obtains by crushing