Page:Bird Life Throughout the Year (Salter, 1913).djvu/304

This page needs to be proofread.



as they chase one another above the fresh-turned furrows, till we momentarily expect them to break into song. Belated visitors to the coast may enjoy days such as the August crowd sighed for in vain, halcyon days of kindly skies and placid sea, when knots of gulls scream above the shoals of fry, or float lazily up the estuary with the tide. Over field and woodland the glamour of departed glories is cast once more, till, with oncoming dusk, the partridges crow from the stubbles, and the pheasants, with tumult of wings and voices, fly up into the oaks to roost. As we stand by the lake-side, the last gleam of daylight is reflected from the silky breasts and necks of a pair of crested-grebes, while, nearer the margin, many a waterhen splashes a silvery track amongst the darkening shadows. Magpies noisily go to roost in the plantation, and in the shrubbery the blackbird "chink, chink"s his vesper hymn. A familiar sight in many parts of the country is that of a vast flock of starlings, manoeuvring, like a drifting cloud of smoke, as they seek some well-known resort to roost in company. With what exactitude the flock wheels as one bird, changing in a moment from closed formation to extended front, and finally dropping like a stone to the plantation or reed-bed which is their nightly haunt. Not less wonderful is the well-drilled precision with which the lapwings carry out their evolutions in lines and squadrons, and, familiar as it is, the spiral circling