Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/245

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



time to pick up an insect. Sometimes we notice a backward jerk of the head, and recollect the old idea of the dotterel imitating the movements of the fowler. It was a red-letter day when, after watching the birds till we were stiff and chilled to the marrow, we found the two eggs in a slight hollow of the moss, for nest there was none. One of the birds in its anxiety threw itself on the ground, its wings a little raised and shivering, its white-tipped tail spread to a perfect fan,—the whole attitude much like that of a partridge covering young, or still more that of a nightjar feigning wounded. On a subsequent occasion this bird allowed us to stoop and touch it before it left the nest. Strange that in the case of the dotterel, as in that of some of the other waders, it is the male bird which takes the chief share in incubation, being, in accordance with this but in striking contrast to the general rule, somewhat smaller and duller-coloured than his mate. "The hen is the finer bird" as our old shepherd concisely puts it.

Now to leave the wind-swept summit for the deep hollows, carved in the mountain's flank, where birch and stunted oak cling to the face of the crags. Here we shall have as music the Buzzard's wild and melancholy cry, and may see the big hawk floating lazily on upraised wings or mounting in a great spiral till it becomes a mere speck in the blue. Usually considered a timid or cowardly bird, we are prepared