Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/239

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.



their hard, stony investment. The Greenfinch, on the other hand, when enjoying the red, fruity part of the "hips" of the dog-rose, may be seen to throw aside the bristle-coated nutlets or "seeds." The Sparrows, nesting duties over, betake themselves to the cornfields and by over indulgence in grain forfeit any claim to consideration based upon the fact that they rear their young chiefly upon green caterpillars. The noisy crowd of them, disturbed by farmer's boy with his "clappers," rises from the stooks to cover the hedge-top. But, mindful only of the danger which is evident, they wot not of a silent and stealthy foe who glides round the corner of the fence. In a moment the Sparrow-hawk has singled out his victim—a plump young bird, not yet strong upon the wing. Not only for men and sparrows is it harvest-time; the hawks, too, in late summer find a plentiful table.

In the latter part of August, Guillemots, Puffins and other sea-fowl desert the cliffs. The story of the month would net be complete without mention of the flights of wading birds, Greenshank, Knot, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Stints, Godwits and the like, which, coming from the north, alight upon our coasts, preferring the muddy estuaries and oozy channels of the Eastern counties. With them sometimes comes an Avocet, Spoonbill or Stork, but the chance of a visit from one of these distinguished strangers is much greater in the month of May. The Whimbrel is about