Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/253

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the year, perches tamely on the wire fence of the paddock long after its elders have gone, proof sufficient that, in this case at least, migration is independent of leadership, for, when its time comes, it will find the palms and temples of the south as easily as if personally conducted. Swallows and House Martins are still with us, and should be seen well into October, but, if rough, chilly weather sets in, they are ready to antedate their time of departure, and, after struggling against the wind for a day or two, sometimes hawking low to pick up insects from the herbage, they will leave in a body before September is out, not unfrequently abandoning a belated brood or two in the nest.

Of the myriads which leave us how small a proportion returns in the spring, bearing witness to the perils which beset the migratory flight, and lending countenance to the generally-expressed opinion that both swallows and martins decrease in number from year to year. One may take comfort in seeing the Sand Martins still swarming about their burrows in the soft sand and gravel cliffs of the East coast, so exactly fitted for their tunnelling that they seem to flourish there as nowhere else, and in counting one hundred and ninety nests of the House Martin under the eaves of a large Essex flour-mill, but the stress of wet and chilly summers falls upon them heavily, as also the persecution to which, when nesting, they are subjected at the hands of the common house-sparrow, hence their failure to hold