Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/279

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Bird Life in October.

October is the mellow month of fruition, the kindly season when the promises of summer are redeemed in full. How lavishly it strews the ground with the ungarnered harvest of hedge-row and plantation, with horse-chestnuts, beech-mast and acorns, tempting the squirrel to wander far from his accustomed woods into the open. Who does not know the misty morning which brightens into a typical day of October, perfectly still, with an almost imperceptible haze softening every feature of the landscape,—a day of St. Luke's summer, when the bird-cherry flames in the spinney amongst the yellows of birch and hazel, and the last chestnut-leaves fall silently? The genial warmth of mid-day brings out the bees and butterflies once more; drone-flies and blue-bottles cluster at the flowering ivy. The pheasants, which have wandered far from cover in search of acorns, lie dusting like fowls on a warm bankside. Under the oaks in the park two fallow stags fight, pushing one another backward with clashing of interlocked horns. Chaffinches sing blithely. Skylarks burst into song, but their flight is shorter and they do not mount so high as in spring.